Ravens vs 49ers: Keys to victory for week 6

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Oct 11, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive end Lawrence Guy (93) hits Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) after he releases the ball at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Key #3: The pass rush must get to Colin Kaepernick

The Ravens, missing Terrell Suggs and then losing Elvis Dumervil to an injury last week, are surprisingly still generating some pass rushing juice.  The team is currently (and surprisingly) tied for 6th in the NFL in sacks with 15 through 5 games.

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They got to McCown 4 times last week thanks to a breakout performance by journeyman defensive end Lawrence Guy, who racked up 2 sacks.  The Ravens hit McCown a total of 5 times as Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan also recorded a sack against a solid Browns’ offensive line.

Meanwhile, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has absorbed a whopping 16 sacks through 5 games as the 49ers struggle to pass protect.  It’s a big part of the reason why the 49ers have only the 30th ranked NFL passing offense and why Kaepernick has 5 interceptions and only 4 touchdowns.

If the Ravens can slow down Carlos Hyde and the running game and generate consistent pressure on Kaepernick, the 49ers will struggle to move the ball on offense.  Despite looking like a viable quarterback last week against the Giants, much of that success came because he was rarely under pressure (2 sacks, 2 hits).

When he’s forced to leave the pocket, Kaepernick’s accuracy and decision making take a major nose dive.

Next: Time for the Ravens to make changes?

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