The San Francisco 49ers are favored to win the 2013 Super Bowl, but they have certainly been the underdogs in national media coverage. While Jim Harbaugh taking on his brother and the emergence of quarterback Colin Kaepernick have been big stories, they have been no match for the Ray Lewis media train that hit a new speed on Tuesday with the emergence of deer antler-related allegations.
Luckily, SB Nation has its own San Francisco-focused group of writers over at 49ers blog Niners Nation who are taking care of all the angles that aren't related to that certain linebacker's retirement or eating habits. David Fucillo, the head honcho over at Niners Nation, is in New Orleans and has been filing both video and written reports each day. Meanwhile, the rest of the staff has been providing some of the best football-related analysis around.
Dylan DeSimone looked at some comments from Aldon Smith regarding his recent sack drought, where he hasn't recorded one in five games. Smith put up 19.5 sacks before that time, which makes his lack of sacks all the more puzzling. DeSimone believes that Smith will rise to the occasion and break the streak on Sunday:
On the bright side, Aldon Smith performs best under the national spotlight. He has 10 sacks in prime time games this year, including his late season drought. So even with his supposed cold streak factored in, Smith is still averaging 1.25 sacks a game.
There is no bigger spotlight than the Super Bowl. And with all that's on the line, it wouldn't shock me to see Smith end his cold streak by getting to Joe Flacco once or twice.
As part of an in-depth series of positional previews, Niners Nation also broke down what San Francisco's outside linebackers need to do in order to be effective in the Super Bowl. The post includes a number of visuals and and All-22 analysis. Continuing the Smith theme, NN found that he had one of his best games of the year against the Falcons, despite not recording a sack:
Verse Atlanta - though Aldon did not record a sack - the Niners' second-year linebacker did record 2 hits and 5 hurries, along with a crucial fumble recovery, in one of his best total games of the season. And that's the kind of performance we will want from Aldon in the Super Bowl. It may not look great on the stat sheet, but it will affect Flacco's ability to throw deep. Because the Baltimore offense, similar to Atlanta's last week, is going to look for big plays down-field whenever possible, and Aldon will therefore have opportunities to make an impression on the Ravens' quarterback.
DeSimone returns with the first of a two-part series on how the 49ers should go about attacking the Baltimore Ravens. This article focuses on what San Francisco needs to do in the running game, suggesting that the Niners should continue to employ the read option, as it plays to their strengths and Baltimore's weaknesses:
San Francisco would be wise to employ the read-option against Baltimore, challenging the discipline of this veteran defense, as well as its age. These linebackers want you running in between the tackles. They are the type that wants you in a phone booth, so they can box you in and rough you up.
For a game like this, it would be nice to stretch this defense out by getting to the perimeter. The 49ers might like to put an emphasis on getting the ball outside, relying on their strong edge protectors and athletic pulling guards.
No one would accuse NN of being scatter-brained as a whole. It followed up DeSimone's post with a position preview of the running backs. Not surprisingly, the focus was on workhorse running back Frank Gore:
While he doesn't have the breakaway speed that he once did - his knees are basically held together with duct tape at this point - he's still performing at an incredibly high level. Gore placed in the top ten in almost every major rushing category this year in the company of guys like C.J. Spiller, Stevan Ridley, Alfred Morris, and Doug Martin - all of whom are considerably younger.
Finally, it would be silly to ignore the video work of Fucillo, who came out of his mom's basement to attend media day and score a one-on-one interview with San Francisco's Anthony Dixon. Be sure to continue to check back on Niners Nation's Super Bowl 2013 hub as it is constantly updated throughout the week (a new post every hour, seriously). Watch the Dixon video below: