San Francisco Falls to AFC Best Baltimore

Super Bowls are not played in December. However, Sunday afternoon’s matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens could be a preview of a Super Bowl rematch between these two from 2012.

San Francisco played well, but not well enough as the Ravens secured a 20-17 victory for their eighth straight win. Here we will look at things from a 49ers perspective, as @JWjournalism already broke down the game from a more neutral standpoint. 

Letting Lamar Get Loose

The 49ers defense did a solid job of limiting the damage Lamar Jackson inflicted through the air. He was just 14 of 23 with 105 yards and a touchdown passing. Inclement weather hindered Jackson’s throwing ability, but Lamar did enough with his legs to keep his offense moving throughout the game. 

He gashed the San Francisco defense for 101 yards on 16 carries, running the option with Mark Ingram to perfection. Countless times a 49ers defender would have Ingram, or whoever else was beside Lamar Jackson in their grasp, only to see Jackson running the other way with the football. Even when San Francisco’s defense had Jackson played well schematically on the ground, it did not matter.

Via ESPN Stats and Information, the Ravens are now 12-0 when Jackson goes for over 70 yards rushing. That’s very telling of just how much damage the Louisville product can do to even the best of defenses, such as San Francisco’s. He also became the first NFL quarterback ever to rush for over 100 yards four or more times in a single season.

Defense Still Dynamite

Despite Jackson eclipsing the century mark on the ground, it is worth noting that this was still an awe-inspiring performance from the 49ers defense. Baltimore tallied 283 yards of total offense, their second-lowest mark of the season. Also, their 20 points scored were the fewest of any game this season. It was far from perfect for the 49ers defense, but they continue to show they are a legitimate unit and can help carry San Francisco to a deep playoff run.

Offensive Struggles

Jimmy Garoppolo actually bested Jackson with his arm, going 15 of 21 through the air with 165 yards passing and a touchdown. Raheem Mostert also ran for 146 yards on 19 carries, quickly setting a new career-high. Despite that, San Francisco’s inability to sustain long drives doomed them. 

Both first-quarter touchdown drives were 70-plus yard marches. However, both took only about three minutes. There is absolutely no issue with scoring quickly in the NFL unless it is at the end of the game and your playing keep-away.

Long drives still need to be converted to six points, and San Francisco could not do that late. A 14 play, 66-yard drive that took over eight minutes, resulted in just three points after having first and ten on the Ravens 16 yard line.

The poor weather certainly did play a factor, which only further raises concern over a late-game decision from head coach Kyle Shannahan. With just over six and a half minutes left, San Francisco had fourth and one at the Baltimore 35.

 The offenses had slowed the second half, sure, but Mostert was amidst a career day and certainly could have picked up the short change needed. Garoppolo’s offense opted to go with a shotgun formation, as Jimmy tried to find George Kittle on a quick hitter after identifying blitz. Ravens defensive lineman Chris Wormley tipped it into the air, causing the pass to fall incomplete. It would be the last time Garoppolo touched the football.

After the game, Shannahan defended his decision to throw on the fourth-down play. “Different stuff they (the Ravens) do in those situations… the best thing for us was to throw, definitely could have come up with a better pass play”.

Tucker Strikes Again

After the turnover on downs, Baltimore had excellent field position just shy of midfield. Jackson and the Ravens offense would win the game on a 12 play, 34-yard drive that chewed up over six minutes of game time. This would lead to Justin Tucker’s 14th career game-winning kick.

Kittle Kept in Check

Part of San Francisco’s struggle in keeping long drives was the poor game from George Kittle. The star tight end caught just two passes for 19 yards, by far his worst receiving performance of the year. The receiving core as a whole was underwhelming in the loss, with no 49er going for over 50 receiving yards.

Looking Ahead

The Ravens now boast the top seed in the AFC, holding a 10-2 record and the tiebreaker over New England. They face another tough test on the road next week as they travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills.

The Ravens now boast the top seed in the AFC, holding a 10-2 record and the tiebreaker over New England. They face another tough test on the road next week as they travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills.

San Francisco, also at 10-2 now, takes on another juggernaut next week as well. They’ll travel to New Orleans to face the Saints in what could be a game that determines the top seed in the NFC going into the postseason.

Here is what the current NFL playoff seeding looks like:

The Ravens now boast the top seed in the AFC, holding a 10-2 record and the tiebreaker over New England. They face another tough test on the road next week as they travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills.

San Francisco, also at 10-2 now, takes on another juggernaut next week as well. They’ll travel to New Orleans to face the Saints in what could be a game that determines the top seed in the NFC going into the postseason.

Here is what the current NFL playoff seeding looks like:

Side Note

I know this was supposed to be from a 49ers perspective, but this stat about Baltimore is just too impressive to leave out. On top of their AFC dominance, the Ravens have fared as well against the best of the best in the NFC.


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