In the battle of the Harbaugh brothers the elder and more experienced one won the game. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh prepared his team well on both sides of the football to expose and exploit weaknesses on offense and defense by the 49ers. One area, pass protection, ultimately doomed the 49ers in the end. The crowd of over 71,000 and traveling cross country after playing a game three days earlier was too much for the 49ers to overcome. Niners fans experienced a losing feeling for the first time in eight games. As many times as the 49ers have lost in recent seasons you would think you would be used to the feeling especially since the team is still 9-2 and in control of the NFC West. But the feeling after the loss was frustration and it still stings the day after. The 49ers and Jim Harbaugh will learn from this loss and move forward to week 13. Let’s hand out some Game Gold Nuggets:
= VERY GOOD
Not sure if the 49ers offensive line really played that bad or if the Ravens defense played a really great game with nine sacks on Alex Smith. The nine sacks by the Ravens tied a franchise record for most in a single game. Alex Smith was sacked at least once on eight of the nine drives by the offense. All of this happened without Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis playing in the game. Fellow linebacker Terrell Suggs filled in nicely recording three sacks and harassed Alex Smith all game.
The lone interception by Smith was a costly one late in the second quarter. The 49ers were down 6-3 and at the Ravens’ 35-yard line with 18 seconds left to play. Smith saw WR Braylon Edwards one-on-one on the right side. Smith thought Edwards would cut inside, instead the wide receiver went to the corner of the end zone and the pass was intercepted by CB Lardarious Webb. The INT cost the 49ers a chance to put points on the board which proved to be more difficult in the second-half.
The Ravens showed many defensive fronts and formations on defense that proved too much for the 49ers offense to mount a comeback. Only have three days to prepare for the Ravens 4th ranked defense probably didn’t help but there can be no excuses. The 49ers offense gets knocked for not being able to come back after being down against a really good team. The offense had its chance on Thursday night to prove this theory wrong but instead only showed evidence of this being true. The most frustrating part from yesterday’s game? The 49ers offense had allowed a total of seven sacks in the previous six games.
Season Lows: 49ers offense had season lows in yards (170), first downs (12) and points (6)
“To put it frankly, we played bad today on the offensive line,” left tackle Joe Staley said. “Put that on me and (center) Jonathan (Goodwin) as the leaders of the group. Guys didn’t come to play today. Disappointing effort. I feel like we let our team down.”
The 49ers defense thrives on pressuring quarterbacks into mistakes. The Ravens offense came prepared to not let the 49ers wreak havoc on QB Joe Flacco by getting the football out of his hands quickly. The Ravens offense was so successful in doing this they did not allow a sack or any turnovers.
However it’s not as if the 49ers D gave up a lot of yards and points. The 16 points was a few above their average given up per game this season and only gave up 92 rushing yards and 161 passing yards. Flacco had only one TD but that’s all the Ravens offense needed. The most glaring stat was the Ravens offense converted five of six third downs on their two second-half scoring drives.
Kicker David Akers showed again he is the best at kicking field goals of 50-yards or more. His 52-yard field goal in third quarter made him 6-for-6 on 50 yards or more this season. He was also the only Niners player to put points on the board. Punter Andy Lee was needed five times in the game but averaged 57.6 yards per punt. The rest of the 49ers special teams did not do well with two offside’s penalties on kickoffs. Unacceptable.
The main issue for the 49ers coaching staff was pass protection and the lack of a running game. The Ravens pressure on the offensive line was too much to handle and having a short week to prepare did not help. But the Ravens where also on a short week and came out prepared to win. Jim Harbaugh did say after the game the Ravens defense did not anything surprising that caught the 49ers off-guard which begs the question of why the 49ers could not handle the passing pressure. It is one thing to look overwhelmed in the first-half but the 49ers offense did not make the proper adjustments at halftime to overcome the pressure in the second-half. The defense did adjust to Ravens WR Anquan Boldin who had four catches for 63 yards in the first quarter but only one catch for seven yards the rest of the game.
The 49ers were exposed in the 16-6 loss to the Ravens and traveling 3,000 miles to play a game three days after their last one was too much for this team. The 49ers have proven they can win on the east coast against good teams but the loss showed they still have some holes to fix before they head into the playoffs.
NEXT UP: @home vs. Rams
The 49ers have nine days to recover from their Thanksgiving loss before they host the 2-8 Rams on December 4. The 49ers have a nice chance to get back to their winning ways against a struggling and injured Rams team.