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Will the Ravens' defense be able to silence Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers' Pistol offense?
Trying to contain the multidimensional read-option Pistol offense and athletic dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a tough assignment for any defense, and it will be particularly challenging for a Ravens defense that's old in a few key spots.
That includes retiring inside linebacker Ray Lewis, 37, whose range has declined noticeably in recent years while remaining instinctive and forceful as a tackler, and free safety Ed Reed, 34, who has admittedly slowed down a bit with age and injuries.
"Are Ray and Ed as fast as they used to be? No, of course not," former NFL cornerback and current NFL Network analyst Eric Davis said. "Can they still get the job done and make plays on Colin Kaepernick? Yes, of course they can. It is going to be tough with the pace of the game the 49ers like to play with, but Ray and Ed didn't get to this point by not figuring out a way to excel in any situation. Their experience could give them an advantage against Kaepernick. It will be interesting to see how this plays out."
Kaepernick has had an excellent postseason, thriving on the field with his strong arm and fast legs propelling the 49ers to this game.
Where Kaepernick, who has made only nine career starts, could falter is if Reed baits him into a miscue. Reed has a way of lulling quarterbacks to sleep and disguising his intentions. The St. Rose, La., native has 61 career interceptions and is known for his dedication to film study. If there's a hole in Kaepernick's game, Reed is likely to find it and exploit it.
It's what he's done ever since his arrival in Baltimore in 2002. Playing in his home state of Louisiana, Reed figures to be supremely motivated.
This could also mark his final game with the Ravens since he's a free agent whose $44.4 million contract is expiring. Reed currently has no agent, having fired his previous representation years ago.
January 31, 2013