San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick doesn’t need fresh mechanics, he just needs to feel it — like he did Sunday, leading the 49ers to a 25-20 win over the stumbling Baltimore Ravens.
A confident-looking Kaepernick threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns as the 49ers snapped their four-game losing streak in a Super Bowl 47 rematch featuring two teams that are mere shells of what they were three years ago in New Orleans.
Kaepernick has had opposing players and media members doubt him all season. After two solid games, he said he isn’t fazed with the talk about his game:
“People can talk all they want that doesn’t affect how I go about my business.”
The 49ers’ offense started quick with a screen to wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who reversed direction to gain of 15 yards for a first down. But the drive fizzled as screens and check downs led to a Bradley Pinion punt.
The 49ers defense looked strong as the Ravens first drive only lasted five plays, and their second drive was a three and out.
The 49ers were able to dominate through the air all game, as Kaepernick piled up 225 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Fullback Bruce Miller was Kaepernick’s go-to receiver early, catching 3 passes for 89 yards in the quarter alone.
After manhandling Ravens Linebacker C.J. Mosley on a 28-yard pass play that set up a 53-yard Phil Dawson field goal, a wide-open Miller picked up for 52 yards on play action to lead to another field goal and a 6-0 49ers lead.
Wright, who had aired frustrations about the 49ers organization on Twitter, gave up the most explosive play of the game, a 76-yard bomb from Kaepernick to former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith.
Kaepernick felt Wright’s time with the team helped them understand where they could take advantage of him. And did they ever:
“I think being around any player, you pick up on their tendencies. You pick up on what you can take advantage of. There were a couple of things we thought we could take advantage of and we did.”
Wright helped the 49ers more than he did when he was on the team by blowing coverage on a play action pass that saw him matched one on one with the speedy Smith. The Ravens defense dared Kaepernick to throw deep, and he called their bluff to score the 49ers first touchdown of the night and a 13-3 lead.
Boldin said the plan was to attack Wright:
“I mean when you have a guy on your team for that long, you get to see him every day in practice, you understand his weaknesses as well as his strengths. So, that was one of the thing we wanted to attack today.”
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Kaepernick and the offense were able to get in rhythm after the short passing game brought up the Ravens defenders, allowing them to make big plays:
“We actually thought we’d have more success with the intermediate routes. The huge play to Bruce and the one to Torrey, I mean, plays we had drawn up, plays we thought we could take advantage of, but both just great plays by those two.”
The 49ers held the Ravens without a touchdown in the first half. The two times the Ravens were in the red zone, cornerback Tramaine Brock made two pass deflections on Ravens wideout Steve Smith Sr. in the end zone to limit Baltimore to field goals each time.
The Ravens started the second half poorly as quarterback Joe Flacco, pressured by linebacker Ahmad Brooks, threw an errant pass that would be picked off by Kenneth Acker and taken 45 yards into Ravens territory, leading to Dawson’s third field goal. Acker was gifted the pick, and set up his offense with a perfect opportunity to score:
“Those are some of the most nervous ones to catch because the ball is kind of hanging for awhile. I just wanted to put the offense in the best position that I could, so I tried to make a play afterwards.”
Flacco was finally able to get the Ravens offense clicking with a 34-yard touchdown to Smith deep left in the end zone, also over Acker, who had picked him off one series earlier.
When the 49ers needed a big play, Boldin stepped up in the fourth quarter. On a designed scramble, Kaepernick rolled left and found Boldin one-on-one with Jimmy Smith. Boldin made the over the shoulder 51-yard grab with Smith draped all over him, putting San Francisco in perfect position to score.
Kaepernick always believes that Boldin with his trustworthy hands will always make the big play.
“Very strong hands and just a competitive nature. You put the ball up 99 times out of 100, he’s going to come down with it. That gives you great confidence as a quarterback to put one up and give him that opportunity.”
Two plays later, third-year wide receiver Quinton Patton hauled in his first career touchdown pass in after Wright fell down in coverage to leave him wide open in the end zone for a 25-13 lead after a failed two-point conversion.
But the Ravens wouldn’t go away, and on the very next drive Flacco took the Ravens 80 yards, ending with a two-yard Kamar Aiken touchdown reception to close the game to 25-20.
With 1:15 to go, Flacco and the Ravens needed a touchdown to win the game. Starting at their own 20, completions to Jeremy Ross and Smith would take them in to 49ers territory with a chance to win the game.
A spike stopped the clock before a 49ers penalty for 12 men on the field gave the Ravens two chances to heave the ball into the end zone.
The 49ers’ two former Ravens receivers were at odds with how the game was going to end.
Torrey Smith said he was a little nervous on the sideline remembering how Flacco can make plays to win the game, like when Flacco hit him with a game-tying touchdown in 2013 to head into overtime before knocking out the Denver Broncos on their way to the Super Bowl.
“I was on the sideline heart racing , seeing Joe Flacco with that much time, because I know what it’s like to be on the other side of that. You give him any bit of time he can put points up.”
Boldin, though, said he was confident that the 49ers defense would be able to hold, as they had all game.
The first attempt saw Flacco miss Aiken deep left of the end zone leaving the Ravens with only six seconds on the clock.
The 49ers defense held on the game’s final play, as safety Eric Reid knocked down a pass intended for Smith in the back of the end zone to end the game.
San Francisco now looks to take the momentum from this win into Thursday night against division rival Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s. The last time the two played a Thursday night game it was on Thanksgiving, and Seattle celebrated by eating turkey on the 49ers’ home field.
But Torrey Smith knows the Seahawks are always a tough test, even at 2-4:
“We can’t really spend too much time being happy because we have a tough defense coming in here Thursday. So, we have to get our mind right for that one.”