No. 3: George Kittle vs. Brandon Carr
Kittle’s presence alone is good enough to warrant a lot of attention. But if the Niners can maintain some prowess with wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders, who have both dealt with injuries lately, the Ravens won’t be able to simply double or triple cover Kittle at will.
One of the primary players responsible for keeping Kittle in check will be Baltimore safety Brandon Carr, who is still playing at a high level despite being 33 years old.
According to Pro Football Focus, Carr was allowing a completion percentage of just 59.2 when he was in coverage, and opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of only 87.3 when targeting him prior to Week 12.
Overall, the Ravens have allowed just 467 total receiving yards to tight ends this season, which equates to only 42.5 per game.
Kittle isn’t like most tight end Baltimore has faced this season, though, which is a bonus for San Francisco. And his ability to merely draw coverage should help the 49ers’ other pass-catching weapons, too.
Still, Kittle’s impact on the game, combined with Carr’s ability to cover him, will have a substantial impact on the outcome.