49ers vs. Ravens: Are we seeing a possible Super Bowl preview?

49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are set to face off this Sunday in what could be a game of the year candidate and a possible Super Bowl preview.

Prior to the Week 12 national dismantling of the Green Bay Packers, the San Francisco 49ers were slated to begin a brutal three-game stretch that features all playoff-bound teams.

The 49ers got off to a blazing start with a convincing 37-8 victory over future Hall of Fame quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Up next for this vastly improved defense is the young phenom Lamar Jackson.

Despite boasting arguably the league’s top defense, San Francisco will certainly have their hands full with Jackson who is turning heads around the league with his stellar all-around play. Let’s discuss a few tactics the 49ers should consider implementing on defense.

Keep All Eyes on Lamar Jackson

The one distinctive advantage San Francisco has over most teams is a stellar front-four that can generate pressure without much of a blitz. This should be really useful going up against a dynamic quarterback which the Ravens happen to have.

By rushing only four linemen, this allows the Niners to drop seven into coverage while keeping all eyes on Lamar Jackson and alternating spy assignments.

Theoretically, the strategy sounds simple enough to execute and the 49ers definitely have the talent and coaching staff to muster such a game plan.

Of course, there are various elements that contribute to the final outcome of a game, but as long as there’s a solid foundation mapped out, the rest of the chips will fall into place.

The Ravens are also coming off an impressive game which featured a beatdown of the Los Angeles Rams during their Monday Night game. Jackson dazzled all night and left the Rams scratching their heads in total disbelief.

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Jackson finished with completing 15-of-20 passes for 169 yards and five touchdowns. Sprinkle in a little 100+ yard game from Mark Ingram and the Rams’ frustration is completely understandable (ahem, Mr. Jalen Ramsey).

However, that’s what separates this 49ers team from many others. The Ravens went into that game with a plan to neutralize their most dominant player in Aaron Donald who was basically double-teamed all night.

Unfortunately for the Ravens, they will have to pick their poison when it comes to San Francisco because of all the loaded talent along that defensive line.

Faster Start for the Offense

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Even though the final score may have been quite lopsided, the 49ers offense didn’t really find a rhythm until right before halftime. Fortunately for the 49ers, Aaron Rodgers couldn’t really get comfortable neither.

Rodgers was sacked five times including an opening drive tone-setter when he was hit and fumbled inside the 49ers red zone.

Other than the 49ers quick score off the turnover, their second touchdown came by way of a Deebo Samuel slant pass that went for 42 yards just before halftime. In fact, San Francisco didn’t even convert on third down until late in the fourth quarter.

If the 49ers expect to continue rolling especially during this tough part of the season, Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo will need to help this offense stay on schedule and convert third-downs in order to help the defense remain fresh.

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I mean, after all, they’re going to be doing some serious cardio trying to track down No. 8 and I can only imagine how taxing that’ll be on any player. Luckily for Niner Nation, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have put together a solid roster that can be rotated frequently and kept fresh for a late-game push.

However, if the offense stumbles out of the gate and gives this Ravens team any additional possessions, this game may get away from Shanahan and company.

With that said, I have complete faith in my boys and I know they are working extremely diligently in order to prevent any type of let down.

With each passing day, my nerves begin to flutter wildly and it feels as if I’m about to suit up for the red and gold (which I kind of do on game days anyways). For some reason though, this game feels a lot more significant than usual.

Perhaps it’s because of the constant scrutiny surrounding this year’s squad along with the never-ending Garoppolo bashing.

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Whatever the case is, I’m just looking forward to a solid game and another step towards silencing the critics!