Ravens vs. 49ers Observations
By Brett Foote
Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive end DeAngelo Tyson (93) chases San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) as offensive tackle Joe Staley (74) tries to block in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to the morning after! After a gallon or so of coffee, we are ready to recap some Ravens vs. 49ers observations. With a final score of 23-3, it’s hard to be disappointed in the Raven’s performance. There is always room for improvement, of course, but the team and especially John Harbaugh have to be pleased with the way the offense was able to execute. Joe Flacco and the run game looked mostly excellent, and even Tyrod Taylor had a solid game.
Perhaps the star of the night was Lorenzo Taliaferro. The rookie running back out of Coastal Carolina University ran with authority, rushing for 71 yards on 13 carries. Taliaferro started the game behind Justin Forsett, but that may not last for long. The third round pick played essentially every down in the second half, showing off his excellent blocking skills.
Justin Forsett played as the third running back but also mixed in with the second team a bit, serving as a change of pace back for Bernard Pierce. Forsett rushed 7 times for 29 yards and had one reception for 13 yards. He did lose a fumble, however, which killed one drive. Pierce put the ball the on ground as well, but didn’t lose possession. Harbaugh took note after the game, quipping “we put the ball on the ground too much.”
Any time a team installs a new scheme, there are bound to be growing pains. But when a team can rush for 237 yards on 48 carries as a team (4.9 yards per carry average), good things are bound to happen.
Bernard Pierce was the second back in but also mixed in with the first team offense with Ray Rice. Pierce ended up with 10 carries for 37 yards rushing and a nice touchdown run up the middle. Ray Rice played sparingly, rushing 3 times for 17 yards. Pierce looked great behind the starting offensive line, and not so great behind the second team. The burst we have been discussing in regards to Rice was on clear display as he looked sharp in his cuts. Overall, the Ravens had a whopping 237 yards rushing.
Kyle Juszczyk looked as advertised, collecting a 17 yard pickup from Joe Flacco in his best reception of the night. Juice Check wound up with 3 catches for 28 yards and dished out some punishment along the way. While most of the starters played sparingly, Kamar Aiken played plenty of snaps and looked like a guy who is going to make the roster. Playing with the second team offense, Aiken led the team in receiving with 4 catches for 46 yards.
In his lone drive of the game, Joe Flacco was 4 of 5 passing for 52 yards, marching the offense up the field on an 80 yard, 10 play drive. Flacco hit four different receivers on his four completions, spreading the ball around with ease. Backup Tyrod Taylor looked comfortable in Kubiak’s offense as well, and wound up 13 of 21 for 116 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Taylor also rushed 5 times for 59 yards, and kept the chains moving with his legs on multiple occassions.
C.J. Mosley played with the first and second team defense, racking up 5 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 quarterback hit. He was flying around the field and has the look of a future star who will make an immediate impact this season. Training camp super sleeper Tramain Jacobs had 4 tackles himself and continues his mission to lock up a starting job.
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The defense, unlike the offense, came out the gate slow and gave up chunks of yards to the 49ers’ rushing attack. The Niners were able to run on the Baltimore defense with ease until the second team came in. The only guy who stepped up to make a stop was nose tackle Brandon Williams, who had a tackle for a loss on 3rd and 1 in the red zone that killed the 49ers’ drive. Once backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert stepped on the field, the offense sputtered.
In the battle for third cornerback, Asa Jackson showed well and collected an interception of Gabbert along the way, along with drawing an offensive pass interference call. Chykie Brown continued to hurt himself by getting called for two penalties. Dominique Franks had an interception as well.
Overall, the Raven’s performance was excellent for a first preseason game. Any time an offense installs a new scheme, there are bound to be growing pains. But when a team can rush for 237 yards on 48 carries as a team (4.9 yards per carry average), good things are bound to happen. Especially when it comes against a team that has an excellent defense, like the 49ers.
Ball security is bound to be a point of emphasis this week in practice, as is a focus on defending the edge. Most of the big run plays the first team defense gave up were on the edges, with running back Carlos Hyde sprung by only one or two blocks.
Overall, the Ravens couldn’t have asked for a much better performance. If the defense tightens up and the run game continues to dominate like it did tonight, we are in for one heck of a season.