Big weaknesses for 49ers, Ravens

Baltimore pass rush, San Francisco receivers could cost their teams

Originally Published: January 31, 2013
By Nathan Jahnke | Pro Football Focus

Jim & John HarbaughGetty ImagesBoth the Niners and Ravens have weaknesses that could vex them on Sunday.

We have been lucky enough that most recent Super Bowls have come down to great plays late in the game. It's easy to remember the players who made the game-changing plays like Mario Manningham, Clay Matthews and Tracy Porter. What is less memorable are the players who struggle through the Super Bowl, although they shouldn't be.

These are the players who are costing their team a Lombardi trophy, even though they might not be involved in the game-changing or game-clinching play. To make the Super Bowl, you can't have many weaknesses, but they exist. The Ravens and 49ers both are full of star players who have commanded the media spotlight and might make the big play, but they also feature units that could cost their team a ring.

Baltimore Ravens: Pass rush

For years, Terrell Suggs has been the primary pass-rusher for the Ravens' defense, averaging just more than nine sacks per year before the 2012 season. This season, after he returned halfway through from his torn Achilles tendon injury, he was held to just two regular-season sacks. It's important for the pass-rushers to not only get sacks but also record hits and hurries. In 2012, Suggs has recorded a pressure an average of once every 14.5 pass rushes, the second-worst rate for all 3-4 outside linebackers. The only player who has been worse at pass rushing at the position is rookie teammate Courtney Upshaw, who has been astounding in stopping the run but has a pressure on one in every 15.1 of his pass rushes.