There is only one place where NFL players want to be during this time of the year. The Super Bowl. Both the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens have the opportunity to be the last team standing come Sunday night.
Of course, leading up to the game the quarterbacks are getting a bulk of the attention. The NFL is a quarterback driven league, which is the reason why QBs are either blamed when taking a loss, or praised when victorious. 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick is truly a huge reason why his team has made it to New Orleans. However, I believe the real reason they’ve made it to this point is because of the consistent play of running back Frank Gore.
Gore was named to the Pro Bowl this season, after rushing for 1,214 yards and eight touchdowns. Most impressively, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry. The 49ers have a dominant defense (third in the NFL), and a talented running back. This helps Kaepernick fill the role as QB quite smoothly. It’s impossible to know if they would have made it this far with Alex Smith at QB, but hey, they were 6-2-1 while he was under center.
The Ravens on the other end, have a pretty effective running back of their own. He goes by the name of Ray Rice. Rice also rushed for over 1,000 yards this season (1,143), and his been the safety blanket for QB Joe Flacco. When Rice gets his touches, Baltimore is a tough out. He provides a spark to their offense. Baltimore’s defense has also been much stiffer this postseason, due to Ray Lewis’ impact, as they held the Patriots’ number one ranked offense to only 13 points two weeks ago.
This is the first time both quarterbacks will have the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. That could be somewhat nerve wrecking, which is why leaning on their running backs may be their go-to option. I believe Gore will have the larger impact on this game. Jim Harbaugh knows that their offense runs through Gore. I’m not so sure the Ravens feel the same about Rice, which they should.
Yes Flacco and Kaepernick are the popular story lines going into Super Bowl 47, but I believe the back that gets the most touches between Gore and Rice will help lead his team to a Super Bowl victory.