The Ravens face off against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and Colin Kaepernick, a dual threat quarterback that can beat you with his arm just as often as his feet. The Ravens used to handle running quarterbacks better than anyone in the league. However, if this season has shown us anything, it's that this is not the same Ravens defense.
The only other real quarterback that the Ravens have faced this season with anywhere close to the same feet that Kaepernick possesses is Mike Vick from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now keep in mind that this is the same Vick that is 35-years old and was playing on a short week after Ben Roethlisberger went down with his knee injury. It's not the same Vick that we all saw running around making plays in Atlanta by even the wildest stretches.
Looking back at that Thursday night game, we can see that Vick was able to get out of harms way 9 times for 33 yards. He ran for two first downs during the game and the threat of him leaving the pocket forced the Ravens to keep an eye on him all game long, limiting what they could do with a damaged secondary.
With Kaepernick, the Ravens are facing off against a player that is 27-years old instead of 35. Kaepernick also doesn't have the wear and tear on his arm and legs like Vick does, meaning that teaming up with Torrey smith on the outside is just as likely as him hitting the outside and turning it upfield for 20-yards. While Kaepernick has not had the best year so far through the air, he is averaging 6.1 yards per attempt on the ground and has a touchdown with his leg.
What that will force the Ravens to do is keep a player like linebacker C.J. Mosley in to spy on Kaepernick. With Mosley's issues in coverage thus far, the 49ers would be wise to also run runningback Carlos Hyde out on a route to freeze Mosley and give Kaepernick the choice between running it himself, throwing it deep downfield, or tossing it to a fast runningback that should have a step on Mosley. If the 49ers can keep that up, they will give themselves shots down the field to Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin and on the ground as the Ravens are constantly fighting to keep up.
The best way for the Ravens to keep this from happening is for their defensive line to get penetration on Kaepernick and keep him bottled up. The defensive ends and pass rushers will have to not over-pursue and force Kaepernick to step up into the pocket where nose tackle Brandon Williams has excelled at pushing his offensive lineman into the backfield.
It will still be up to the secondary to keep Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith in check as well as whoever will be covering Carlos Hyde coming out, but hopefully with enough of a pass rush, the niners will be forced to keep Hyde in to help block, which will allow Dean Pees to float linebackers into passing lanes for potential big turnovers.