The San Francisco 49ers have punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLVII to play the Baltimore Ravens for the NFL‘s greatest prize. The two teams’ coaches happen to be brothers, a first in league history and a situation that has created a nickname for the big game–HarBowl.
Each team has a similar identity that includes a polarizing quarterback, dynamic running game, underrated receivers and a stifling defense. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is playing better than he ever has, even after becoming the first NFL passer to win at least one playoff game in each of his first five seasons. That can be attributed to one simple fact: he’s had time to throw the ball during these playoffs.
That means 49ers pass-rushing specialists Aldon Smith and Justin Smith are going to have to be at their best in the HarBowl to keep Flacco off-balance and give San Francisco an edge. Flacco has only been sacked four times in three postseason contests this year, including one in the Wild Card round, one in the divisional round and two in the AFC Championship game. Even though he was sacked the most times in that final game, it was arguably his best as he absolutely torched the New England Patriots‘ secondary to give Baltimore a 15-point win.
To prevent that in the HarBowl, the 49ers’ pass rush is going to have to not only put pressure on Flacco, but bring him down when he has the ball. Those sacks will need to result in at least one turnover, which could be the deciding factor in the game. Regardless, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has to focus on the pass in the next two weeks to make sure his team is ready to take down his older brother’s Ravens.