The San Francisco 49ers have many similarities with the Baltimore Ravens all down their lineups. Sure we all know about the head coaches being brothers; San Francisco’s Jim and the Ravens John Harbaugh, but the coaches aren’t the only entity cut from the same cloth.
On offense both teams have similar backfields. Quarterbacks Alex Smith and Joe Flacco are both solid but by no means are of “elite” status. Each team has a strong ground game led by feature backs Frank Gore and Ray Rice. Any 49er fan that has watched Rice run has to be reminded of a slightly younger Gore.
The two teams have acquired talent on the outside the same way after lacking playmakers over the last few years. They both have a young talent acquired via draft in top 10 49er pick Michael Crabtree, and the Ravens 2nd round rookie Torrey Smith. Teams have added former stars in Braylon Edwards and Anquan Boldin and each have taken flyers in the trade market by trading mid to late draft picks for Ted Ginn Jr. and Lee Evans.
On the opposite side of the ball both teams are led by an all-pro middle linebacker wearing number 52. If Ray Rice is the next Frank Gore then the same comparison can be made of Patrick Willis as the next Ray Lewis. It is unquestioned that the Harbaugh’s are defensive minded in terms of philosophy and mental toughness. They want to control the ball on long drives on offense and then let their defense get physical causing opponents to force the ball to create turnovers.
The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are tied in scoring offense (7th in the NFL) at 25.6 points a game.
The 49ers lead the league in scoring defense, the Ravens are 3rd. They are separated by 5 first downs allowed and have each allowed 45 3rd down conversions.
The 49ers haven’t lost on the road this year, the Ravens haven’t lost at home. This game will be played in Baltimore.
What It All Means
It means we are in for a treat Thursday night. This is the first matchup in NFL history where the head coaches are brothers. What makes that even better is they have teams that are leading their respected divisions and are playing on a day where family values are held in highest regard. Their sister who is married to Indiana’s head basketball coach, Tom Crean, was asked who would be the first phone call be to after the game for the family. Her answer, whoever loses. The brothers plan on going to watch the game together after in is settled, which undoubtedly shows their closeness to one another.
My take, it should be a hard-fought football game coming down to the 4th quarter. The 49ers have been one a few teams to have success traveling east in recent history, but no team tends to play well traveling far on short rest. The Ravens have beaten some good teams at home this year; the Steelers, Texans, Jets, and Bengals. The homer in me says take the 49ers, but I can handle a good close loss given the circumstances. My prediction, 24-23 as the 49ers find a way to pull it out late.