A Difference Maker for the 49ers
The old football adage, “offense wins games, but defense wins the Super Bowl” is as close to being accurate as any old and trite saying about anything. If San Francisco wins Super Bowl XLVII, their defense will have to be dominant, and a part of it will be because of a trade.
The 2010 draft was far from dramatic to the average fan. But the 49ers made a move that helped their defense become one of the best in the NFC. They traded back 13 picks, giving San Diego a chance to draft what they considered one of the best linebackers available, Donald Butler, out of Washington. Later in the draft, San Francisco selected NaVorro Bowman, from Penn State, and later Anthony Dixon.
Almost immediately Bowman became a perfect fit with Patrick Willis, who was already known as one of the game’s finest. Wearing number 53, and Willis number 52, fans have had trouble distinguishing which linebacker made which play.
During the 2012 regular season, Bowman had 149 tackle, 97 of which were solo, and 52 assisted, 2 sacks, and 1 fumble recovered. Willis had 120 tackles, 88 were solo and 32 assisted, with ½ sacks, and 2 fumble recoveries.
Jim Harbaugh’s first draft was in 2011. San Francisco, still unsure if Alex Smith could be their quarterback of the future, passed up highly rated draft choices such as Jake Locker, and Christian Ponder. Their first choice in the draft was Aldon Smith. Later in the draft, Cincinnati took Andy Dalton, and there seemed little prospects left at the quarterback position. Harbaugh was very high on little known University of Nevada Reno quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and traded a 4th round pick to Denver which allowed them to acquire the young QB.
During the 2011 season, Harbaugh’s coaching elevated Smith’s game. They went to the NFC Championship game, losing to the New York Giants. Their offense was led by running back Frank Gore, and their defense was a game changer.
In the 2012 season, Smith suffered a concussion, and Kaepernick took over the team. When he was released by the medical staff, Harbaugh decided that Kaepernick would remain the starting quarterback. His decision was questioned by many of the “experts”, but they forget the past easily.
When Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Tommy Maddox was injured, rookie Ben Roethlisberger was called into action. He’s still there today, having taken them to 3 Super Bowl’s, winning 2 of them.
In the 2012 season, Smith had 66 tackles, 50 solo, 16 assisted. He had 19.5 sacks, and recovered 3 fumbles.
After replacing Smith, Kaepernick had 218 attempted passes, compleing 136 for 1814 yards. He threw for 10 touchdowns, and only 3 interceptions. He also rushed 63 times for 415 yards. In the NFC Championship game he set an all time record when he rushed for 181 yards.
Trading places in the draft, and hiring Jim Harbaugh has put the 49ers into a position to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers with 6 Super Bowl wins. San Francisco has never lost in the Super Bowl, but neither have the Ravens. The 49ers are 5-0, Baltimore 1-0.
The question on everyone’s mind, is “can the emotional lift continue for Baltimore”? Ray Lewis will be playing his final NFL game. My question is, can the aging legs of the Ravens’ defense contain Kaepernick for 60 minutes?
Columnist-The Guardian Express