Ravens turn back 49ers pass rush

FootballJoe FlaccoSan Francisco 49ersBryant McKinnieBaltimore RavensMarshal YandaMatt Birk

While much of the focus after the Ravens’ 16-6 win against the San Francisco 49ers centered on the number of sacks the defense had compiled Thursday night, the pass protection provided for quarterback Joe Flacco also warrants some attention.

Flacco was not sacked for the first time this season. It’s the first time Flacco had avoided being taken down since Sept. 26, 2010 against the Cleveland Browns.

“We just battled out there,” center Matt Birk said. “And giving up no sacks speaks as much as guys getting open and Joe getting rid of the ball quickly as much as it does to the protection.”

The Thanksgiving night victory was the fourth straight game that the offensive line of Birk, guards Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda and tackles Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher had played together, and McKinnie said the chemistry within the front five is continuing to develop.

“The communication has gotten a lot better,” he said. “Once everybody knows what they’re doing, they kind of know who to pick up. … So everybody is able to execute better.”

San Francisco’s defense had entered the contest tied for 13th in the NFL in sacks with 25, but the game plan of applying heat to Flacco didn’t materialize.

“We trust what Coach Vic [Fangio] calls,” inside linebacker Patrick Willis said. “I trust him hands-down, and I’m very thankful he’s my defensive coordinator. Tonight, he called the calls, and we just had to execute better as a defense. We didn’t do our job to uphold our end of that. It’s not on him tonight. It’s on us. We just have to execute better.”

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