In a matchup of two of the best units on either team, we get the strength of the Ravens offensive line against the talent and versatility of the 49ers defensive line. While the Ravens offensive line had some struggles in the regular season, in the postseason the Ravens have allowed only four sacks in three games and have opened rushing holes for 446 team rushing yards and 3 touchdowns in the playoffs.
The 49ers were one of the best defensive lines in football, Aldon Smith had 19.5 sacks, and the 49ers allowed only 3.7 yards per rush in the regular season. The 49ers continue to have success against opposing rushers, not having allowed over 53 yards to any running back in the playoffs, but have registered only two sacks, neither to Aldon Smith. Ravens tackles Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher have had interesting years, with Oher moving to the right side with McKinnie’s acquisition, and then the offensive line giving up 38 sacks and failing to open holes for Rice. In the playoffs, the Ravens have hit their stride facing a 49ers team that has struggled to get pressure since Justin Smith’s triceps injury week 15. The 49ers move Aldon Smith around a lot, and both Oher and McKinnie will see Aldon Smith at times.
Center Matt Birk and guards Marshall Yanda and Kelechi Osemele will be matched up with Justin Smith and Ray MacDonald, who have been amazing against both the run and opening holes for 49ers pass rushers. Justin Smith’s work tying up blockers for Aldon Smith is highly publicized, but Ray MacDonald and the constant pressure he gets is less recognized. MacDonald’s constant quarterback pressures prevent offenses from doubling both Smiths. After a string of games with ineffective pressure, the 49ers are desperate to get pressure in this game. If Justin Smith is finally fully healthy after a week off before the Superbowl, it will help Aldon Smith and the entire 49ers defensive line control this game. Baltimore needs another great game from their offensive line, getting off blocks and making it to block the 49er linebackers if they hope to control a difficult 49er defense.