We’re less than 12 hours away from the start of the most anticipated game in American sports. The San Francisco 49ers have toppled everyone in the NFC worthy of a shot at a Lombardi Trophy, and now only one team stands in their way. The Baltimore Ravens have traveled an equally difficult road, and even have a head coach with the same last name, but the 49ers are heading into the game as favorites and are salivating at the chance to hoist yet another Lombardi Trophy above their heads.
[RELATED: Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl Preview]
We sat down with Ryan Sakamoto, an editor at the 49ers blog Niner Noise to discuss where San Francisco has come, what they need to do to finish off this amazing journey and whether or not we’ll be back here next season talking about this same team in this same spot.
1. So far this season, a lot has been made about Colin Kaepernick but we forget he only played half a season. Is Kaepernick you choice for team MVP or do you think someone who played the whole year had a bigger impact?
Ryan Sakamoto, Editor (Niner Noise): If I had to choose an MVP it would have to be outside linebacker Aldon Smith. Although, Kaep has proven himself as the leader, no player had a bigger impact than Aldon Smith. His ability to rush the passer and arguably supplant DeMarcus Ware as the best pure pass rusher in the game, is invaluable. Making this a no-brainer choice for me.
2. San Francisco made it to the NFC Championship Game last season behind a stout defense, but in the last few weeks it’s been the offense winning games. Do you think the defense will be an issue on Sunday?
NN: I don’t think the defense will be an issue in the Super Bowl. When you look at the two teams they played in the playoffs, they were two high-octane offenses, capable of putting up points on anyone. The Baltimore Ravens offense although pretty good themselves, are no where near the talent level of Green Bay or Atlanta.
3. I’ve been asking this to everyone I know and getting some really polarizing answers. Is this going to be a defensive struggle between two great units or an offensive shootout?
NN: I think this will be a defensive struggle without a doubt. Both defenses will be dialed up and ready to go. The team that will win, will largely depend on which offense commits the fewest turnovers.
4. If you could take one player from the Ravens and put him on your roster, who would it be and why?
NN: The obvious choice would be Ray Lewis or Ed Reed. But we already have those positions covered with Patrick Willis and Dashon Goldson, making Haloti Ngata. The logical choice. He’s the best nose tackle in the game today, and would be a great up grade in the middle.
5. If the 49ers win, or even if they do win, what are the chances we’re talking to you next year previewing another 49ers Super bowl appearance?
NN: I think it is highly likely you will be talking to me, next year this time around. The San Francisco 49ers are building a dynasty with depth across the board. When you delve deeper, you will find that the skilled positions are both young and talented, making this team a Super Bowl contender for the foreseeable future.
6. What’s the single key to success for the Niners on Sunday?
NN: The single key for the success is stopping the run. If the 49ers defense can stop Rice, making the Ravens offense one-dimensional, it will allow the 49ers to play to their strengths with Aldon Smith rushing the passer and Dashon Goldson ball-hawking in the secondary.
7. You’re a scout for the Ravens, what do you tell John Harbaugh when he asks you how to stop San Francisco?
NN: I would say keep all eyes on Kaep. I would tell him to implement a defensive scheme that would make Kaep think twice before hiking the ball, by using different defensive formations. Being an inexperienced quarterback, the more experienced Baltimore D can use their football IQ to their advantage and confuse the younger quarterback.
8. Who’s going to be the Super Bowl MVP?
NN: Vernon Davis without a doubt will be the Super Bowl MVP. Going for over 100 yards and two touchdowns.
9. Like I even need to ask: who wins Super Bowl XLVII and why?
NN: The 49ers win the Super Bowl 24-20, because in the end they are winning their battles down in the trenches.