San Francisco 49ers – What They Need to Win the Super Bowl

The favorites need to make less adjustments, that’s always the case. The San Francisco 49ers have the advantage going into the Super Bowl, and sticking to what worked is probably the best plan, along with some minor changes: Colin Kaepernick staying the same in steering the offense, while Patrick Willis needs to step up in his attempt in stopping Ray Rice from getting his way.

Keep the Running Game Going – First and foremost, the San Francisco 49ers play “old-school” football under the more modern Pistol offense, based on the fact that they have quite a few players who can run the ball: Frank Gore, one of the more productive NFL backs in recent years; LaMichael James, who doesn’t get too many touches, but usually doesn’t have the spotlight on him, which allows him to sometimes get big gains unnoticed.

But the key is in the hands of Colin Kaepernick. He doesn’t call the shots, they’re called for him, but the fear of his ability to run with the ball creates most of the problems. The read option is perfect for Kaepernick because it doesn’t leave him a lot of time to make up his mind. Jim Harbaugh wants his quarterback to run his game plan, and by staying so close to the line of scrimmage, Kaepernick hides the ball and needs to execute instead of think very quickly.

Linebackers making the plays – It’s always hard to say who are the most important players on the football field, but when it comes to the 49ers defense, the linebacking duo of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, possibly the best in the NFL, are probably a bit more important than the rest. Their job in stopping the Ravens’ running game/short passing game, meaning keep Ray Rice as uninvolved as possible, might be the most crucial going into the game.

The Ravens’ offense has shifted a tad under Jim Caldwell; from looking for Ray Rice on at least 30 plays a game, the running game is more balanced and looking for Joe Flacco to make more big plays with his arm is important as well. Still, Rice’s ability to burst through and possibly even more important, make himself useful in the passing game, stretching the defense a-la the West Coast offense, is what makes things a bit unpredictable for the Niners to foresee.

With defensive backs like Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson who like to bite a bit too much on play-action plays, the ability of Willis and Bowman to recognize the developing situation and make the right kind of adjustment will determine just how successful the Ravens are in moving the chains.