Lewis’ last stand
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has one Super Bowl ring, which he won 12 years ago when Baltimore beat the Giants 34-7. Lewis, who is retiring after 17 seasons, would like nothing more than to end his career with another. Lewis’ retirement tour has been overdone throughout the playoffs, and he had to answer questions last week about his alleged use of deer antler spray, which he denied. The bottom line will be how well Lewis and the Ravens’ 3-4 defense contain Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The man holding the Pistol
Kaepernick burst on to the NFL scene in November when he took over for a concussed Alex Smith and kept the starting job after demonstrating sprinter’s speed and dual-threat skills that Smith does not possess. Chris Ault, Kaepernick’s coach at Nevada, has become a household name in New Orleans the past week. It was Ault who invented the Pistol formation – a junior-sized shotgun – in 2005. The 49ers run the zone read out of the Pistol, putting pressure on the Ravens’ outside linebackers to figure out whether Kaepernick is keeping the ball or handing it to Frank Gore.
Yes, everyone’s tired of hearing about the Harbaugh brothers’ youth hockey games in Michigan and their brother-in-law, Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean. But it will be pretty cool to see how John and Jim try to out-guess and out-maneuver each other on the biggest stage in the world. Jim Harbaugh has a good record in big games, winning the Orange Bowl in his final season at Stanford and getting the Niners into the NFC title game his first two years in the NFL. But John has taken the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his five seasons, and is a proven in-game strategist.