Super Bowl 2013: Key Matchups Between Ravens, 49ers

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIJanuary 21, 2013

Ray Lewis will be involved in the Super Bowl's key matchup.
Ray Lewis will be involved in the Super Bowl's key matchup.Elsa/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis versus the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick will be the key matchup in the 2013 Super Bowl.

Think of it almost like a changing of the guard of sorts.

The Ravens are led by Lewis in the middle, who will be retiring at the end of the game. The 49ers have Kaepernick, who has shown he can both run and pass.

Whoever wins the battle between these two will lead his team to victory.

For the last two playoff games, Kaepernick hasn't acted like a starter with single-digit starting experience. He's thrown the ball well and has shown he can be dangerous running the ball.

Kaepernick torched the Green Bay Packers for 181 yards rushing using the simple read-option. The Packers didn't collapse on the quarterback, and he made them pay.

The Atlanta Falcons, on the other hand, collapsed on Kaepernick as he simply let the running backs take it. For the game, 49er running backs had 27 carries for 128 yards and three touchdowns.

The danger he provides makes teams pick their poison. Do they collapse on the running backs and let Kaepernick do the work? Or do they collapse on the quarterback and hope someone is there to stop the running backs.

Either way you look at it, both the Packers and Falcons failed doing it each way.

Lewis will be playing his last game and you can bet he'd like to join John Elway as greats who go out winning a Super Bowl.

He's been the leader of the Ravens for more than a decade and his knowledge of the game is unlike any other.

When watching video of checks at the line of scrimmage between him and other quarterbacks, it's truly a work of art. It's a constant chess game to see who will come out on top for that play.

With Lewis in the middle, the Ravens have found themselves in the top 10 of total defense almost every year.

But, this is just one of the matchups everyone will look forward to watching in New Orleans. Here's a look at a few others.


San Francisco offensive line vs. Baltimore front-seven

The one constant in the run the 49ers have made through the playoffs has been the offensive line's ability to work with Kaepernick.

Green Bay got pressure, but the San Francisco offensive line was still able to give him holes to run through. Against Atlanta, barely any pressure got to the quarterback, which allowed Kaepernick to be successful.

However, Baltimore is a different defensive team than Atlanta or Green Bay.

For one, they have a defensive line that will bring pressure every play and linebackers who can hold their own against the big uglies as well.

San Francisco's offensive line has to give Kaepernick time and create holes for the running game.

If they can prevent the pressure we're accustomed to seeing from the Ravens, then San Francisco will have a field day on offense.

However, if Haloti Ngata, Lewis and others can get pressure, then it's going to be a long day for Kaepernick.


Torrey Smith vs. Either 49er cornerback

Smith has speed like none other in this game. He's shown how good of a receiver he can be and will be tested against Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown.

Whoever matches up against him on pass plays has to be aware of his speed. If they aren't, he'll blow right by them.

Smith, on the other hand, can't let himself be knocked off his routes. He has to get good separation at the snap and be crisp on his routes.

The player that can do this the best will give his team an ultimate advantage. It's even more important for the Ravens as the 49ers have shown other receivers can have big games, but they'll still win.