WHEN THE 49ERS PASS THE BALL: No, Colin Kaepernick is not a classic passer. His motion is a bit jerky, and he doesnt always have good footwork. He is largely still unproven because Super Bowl XLVII will be only his 10th career start. But the second-year player is on fire in the playoffs. His 105.9 quarterback rating is the second-best of any playoff quarterback. His 9.54 yards per pass attempt is the best of any playoff quarterback, and he shows is not afraid to throw deeper balls. The Niners have an array of weapons in the passing game, but it seems odd that perhaps their most gifted pass-catcher tight end Vernon Davis has watched his stats decline since Kaepernick took over the starting job from Alex Smith. Wideout Michael Crabtree, meanwhile, has become San Franciscos most dangerous player in the passing game. The Ravens are not a great pass-rush team as in years past. They arent particularly adept at causing turnovers, either. But they dont give up plays over the top of their defense. They force teams to play error-free. ADVANTAGE: Baltimore.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Wouldnt it be ironic if Ted Ginn Jr., a former Dolphins first-round pick and bust, factored into the outcome of this game? He gets his chance returning punts for the 49ers. The more recognized returner, however, is Jacoby Jones, who was signed by Baltimore off the Houston roster to be a threat as both a punt and kickoff returner. One thing is certain: If this game comes down to a field goal try by the 49ers, they better get kicker David Akers very close. Akers connected on only 69 percent of his kicks this season second-worst in the NFL. He connected on only 9 of 19 attempts from 40 yards out or more. ADVANTAGE: Baltimore.
COACHING: Both teams had a two weeks to prepare for this game which means something significant is about to change. Both Harbaugh brothers Jim and John have never lost an NFL game following a bye. Ravens coach John Harbaugh is 6-0 while brother and San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh is 3-0-1. Both of these coaching staffs are highly experienced and full of quality football minds. Its a toss-up. ADVANTAGE: Even.