Since the 49ers and Ravens run the same 3-4 defense I went through and weighed each against the other. Upon looking at each defender in turn and compare him to the man playing the same position on the other team, I believe the 49ers have a distinct edge.
Lets look at the defensive lines first. The units are both pretty similar in skill and numbers. Both have run stopping nose tackles in Isaac Sopoaga and Ma’ake Kemoeatu. Both LE’s are similar in skill and size as well, with the Niners Ray McDonald producing slightly better statistics than Pernell McPhee. At RE both teams are set with Second Team All Pro’s Justin Smith and Haloti Ngata. I will give the Ravens’ Ngata the edge, and only because Justin Smith has a partially torn tricep muscle. Overall though I believe the Niners defensive line is better overall than the Ravens, but only slightly.
49ers LB ‘s: left to right: Ahmad Brooks, Navarro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith
Ravens LB’s : from L to R: Courtney Upshaw, Ray Lewis, Josh Byrnes, Albert McClellan, Terrell Suggs
In linebackers I give the 49ers a huge advantage. The 49ers have the best corps of linebackers in the NFL, hands down. Each of Brooks, Willis and Smith are First Team All Pro LB’s, and Bowman is Second Team All-Pro. Patrick Willis is 28 and has the potential to be an all time great line backer, and draws comparisons to Ray Lewis. Navarro Bowman has a similar size and skill set, and at only 24 Bowman could easily be aimed in the same direction. The third All Pro is Aldon Smith, who is the leagues best pass-rushing linebacker. Aldon has racked up 33.5 sacks in his 2 years of service. If the 49ers can get this level of linebacker play for a few more seasons then this could prove to be one of the best groups of linebackers ever.
The Ravens are no slouch at LB either. They have an inspired Ray Lewis, which makes him the scariest of the group. Terrell Suggs was hurt all year and has been sluggish and beatable in his return but he is showing signs of improvement. I’ll take a former All-Pro any day. The other LB’s Baltimore swaps into their roster is a rotating group of young LB’s who have yet to acquire the accolades that this 49ers group has.
49ers Secondary : Left to Right : Carlos Rogers, SS Donte Whitner, FS Dashon Goldson, Tarrell Brown
Ravens Secondary: Left – Right : Corey Graham, SS Bernard Pollard / James Ihedigbo, FS Ed Reed, Cary Williams
The 49ers have a slight edge in this group too but again not by too much. Carlos Rogers is a better CB than Corey Graham, and Cary Williams are similar. Ed Reed is an all time great and I wouldn’t give anyone the advantage over him, but Dashon Goldson was an All Pro this year, so I’ll call free safety a tie. Finally I believe Pro Bowler Donte Whitner is better than the Pollard/Ihedigbo platoon.
The Ravens by no means have a bad defense, but when you break down each spot you discover that the Niners are younger and faster, especially at linebacker. Because of this defensive advantage I believe the 49ers will reign supreme in Super Bowl 47.