A relentless pass rush, a physical secondary and the best interior linebacker duo in football: the San Francisco 49ers defense is strong across the board, with few, if any, weaknesses.
We've explored ways the Baltimore Ravens can be successful on offense in Super Bowl XLVII, such as getting RB Ray Rice involved in the passing game and capitalizing on one-on-one mismatches with WR Anquan Boldin vs. the Niners' smaller cornerbacks.
However, the Ravens' greatest strength on offense is their downfield aerial assault. Although the Niners don't give up many big plays, count on Ravens QB Joe Flacco to take his shots downfield.
Understanding the 49ers' man coverage with two-deep safety pass defense will allow the Ravens to play to Flacco's strengths—"courage in the pocket, an extremely strong arm, and an ability to execute simple man-to-man reads"—according to Chris Brown of Grantland.com.
"Expect the Ravens to go for some big passes early in this game, both to loosen up the 49ers and in an attempt to make [Colin] Kaepernick play from behind …
"… Typically, hitting these types of long plays would be a tall order against a 49ers defense that gets after the quarterback. . . Not allowing Flacco to take his shots downfield will be a big part of slowing down the Ravens, but if Baltimore's offensive line can hold up, Flacco's big arm—and his name—might be finding their place in Super Bowl history."
The Ravens offensive line has been superb. They have allowed only four sacks in three games this postseason. But the key to success in the big-play passing game has been Flacco's exceptional pocket awareness and his ability to escape pressure and locate his man downfield.
Flacco says, "The biggest thing for a quarterback is to be able to keep your vision downfield and feel and avoid the rushers at the same time. When you're playing in the NFL, the pocket is so much smaller. You have to have small movements but still avoid guys."
Those "small movements" must be explosive, according to Flacco. Learn how the big-armed QB is able to escape pressure in a shrinking pocket by checking out the video at the top of this article.
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