The San Francisco 49ers rushing attack was one of the NFL's best this year. Frank Gore leads the unit with 1214 yards and 8 touchdowns during the regular season, and another 209 yards and 3 touchdowns in the postseason, with multiple other runners having success. The 49ers use multiple threats in the running game, including a change of pace back in LaMichael James, and working the option run game for quarterback Colin Kaepernick to have rushing success as well. The 49ers worked a power running game through the first half of the season, now with the option read in place, the power game remains, but is less prominent in the 49er offense now. Still, the Ravens will have to prepare for both an option run game that has given two teams fits in the playoffs, and a power game that sees three tight ends, extra lineman, and even defensive lineman in to pound the rock. The Ravens run defense is lead by defensive tackle/end Haloti Ngata, and linebackers Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe. Ngata has been amazing again this year, despite seeing a drop in production, and Ellerbe is proving to be an astute young defender in the middle, actually outperforming Lewis since week 15. The Ravens were inconsistent earlier in the year without Terrell Suggs and Lewis, who was injured with a torn triceps. Baltimore has been a different team since week 15, and getting Lewis and Suggs back played a big part in the Ravens turnaround. Against the 49ers Gore and Kaepernick, Ellerbe and Lewis may be the only thing keeping the 49ers from another stellar rushing effort, this time in the Superbowl. The 49er option run game is something foreign for the Ravens, but running quarterbacks are not. The Ravens were able to keep Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III to modest numbers in the regular season. The 49ers have shown how to use the option run perfectly over their two playoff wins. Kaepernick went off against the Packers, as Green Bay over-committed to stopping Gore, and let Kaepernick run all over them. Gore slowly bruised the Falcons to death, as Atlanta focused on stopping Kaepernick, and let Gore rush for two touchdowns. The Ravens Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw will need to keep outside containment, along with Lewis and Ellerbe cleaning up inside, to stop the 49ers running game. It is important the linebackers and defensive line can defend the run themselves, as Baltimore’s safeties will already be busy guarding the tight ends and receivers deep, and if the Ravens need safety help to stop then option run, it will open up for Kaepernick to use the 49ers pistol set’s quick play action to beat them deep.
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