Aug 7, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. (89) waves to fans after beating the San Francisco 49ers 23-3 at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens vs. 49ers Grades

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Ravens vs. 49ers grades: the day after.

Ravens fans were treated to a great start to the season Thursday night as they watched their beloved birds dominate the San Francisco 49ers in Harbaugh Bowl 3.0.  The team performed admirably in pretty much all aspects and appeared to be hitting on all cylinders.  It’s an impressive feat considering most preseason games, especially the first one of the season, tend to be quite sloppy as teams get back into game shape.

It’s all the more impressive considering how many new pieces the Ravens have on both sides of the ball.  The offensive line performed quite admirably in light of the fact that they are essentially a brand new unit.  Joe Flacco was almost flawless despite the fact that he has had to change several major aspects of his game.  Kudos to the team and the coaching staff for their excellent preparation.  Without further ado, let’s get on to the grades.

Offense: A

The offense performed better than anyone could have possibly expected given the circumstances.  Can the magic want of Gary Kubiak really be that magical?  This is a team that had a bottom three offense last season, and last night they looked like they could be top 3.  Joe Flacco spread the ball around with ease and looked incredibly comfortable.  He was getting the ball out quickly, which gave the 49ers no chance at shaking him with pressure.

Even better, the run game looked fantastic.  All four backs – Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Justin Forsett – had no problem picking up yards in chunks.  In fact, the second team offensive line didn’t even really play very well, but the backs kept on chugging along regardless.  If they can run the ball this effectively against the 49ers, they are going to win some games this season, and teams are going to be forced to stack the box.

Defense: B-

The defense didn’t necessarily look bad, but they started off a little rough.  The 49ers came out of the gate running the ball and the Ravens D couldn’t stop them.  The Niners just kept bouncing out to the edges and gaining ten yards at a time. In fact, before he got stuffed on one of his last carries, Carlos Hyde was averaging almost ten yards a carry.  Pass rushers were over pursuing up the middle and everybody else was getting outrun or blocked to the ground.

Things tightened up after the first drive, but we can’t ignore the fact that the tides turned immediately after Blaine Gabbert took over for Kaepernick.  Gabbert looked like a guy that shouldn’t even be a third string quarterback on any roster last night, looking just about as bad as a quarterback could look.  But we’ll give the D the benefit of the doubt, because it’s really hard to judge them too much with such a small sample size.

Coaching: A+

It is hard to expect much better game planning or execution from the coaching staff.  For a team to come out and dominate in the preseason means that your coaches are undoubtedly on top of things and in control.  What makes Kubiak’s offensive playcalling look even better is time of possession.  The Ravens had the ball for 39:37, while the Ravens had it for 20:23.  That’s almost double.  And that’s what an effective run game will do for you.

The team did a masterful job of mixing run and pass, along with a sprinkling of play action.  Kubiak changed things up with Tyrod Taylor in the game as well, playing to his strengths as a runner and allowing him to use his legs to pick up yards when there was nothing there.

The defense settled in after that first drive, so we’ll give Pees credit as well.  Again, whether that was due to adjustments or Gabbert’s complete ineffectiveness, we just can’t tell.

Special teams: B+

A solid effort overall, but nothing spectacular.  The biggest plus was that Justin Tucker, already one of the most accurate kickers in the game, hit all three of his field goals.  Yawn.

What grades would you give the Ravens for lasts night’s performance?

 

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