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Film Review: No passing? No problem

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San Francisco 49ers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

On a rainy, cold day, two of the NFL’s most well-coached teams did battle. Both the Ravens and 49ers made plays, but the former won because they made plays when they had to.

There seems to be a narrative that the Ravens were flawed or exposed while defeating the previously 10-1 49ers. In the freezing, pouring rain, the Ravens gained merely 101 yards through the air. No deep completions. Hollywood Brown doesn’t appear in the box score. Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards were contained, although bruising their opposition.

They still won. The 49ers played just about as well as they’d hoped to. With the game on the line, the team that had only lost one game by an overtime field goal, couldn’t come out on top.

This speaks volumes about the Ravens ability to improvise, adapt and overcome.

Lamar Jackson played a game without forcing mistakes. He did lose a fumble, but that was the result of one of the most spectacular defensive plays I’ve witnessed in 2019.

No. 8 also was hesitant at times, while rushed in others. His reads weren’t as sharp as they have been on the Ravens historic tear, but neither were Jimmy Garoppolo’s. The rain certainly forced both passers to attempt to judge what they could and couldn’t do under unique circumstances.

Jackson certainly left some points on the board in the passing game, although he made throws when he needed to. He seems to be able to elevate above his competition when it matters the most.

Since the Ravens were unable to get much going through the air, the 49ers safeties didn’t play the deep ball. Instead, they loaded the box and stuffed the run game. The read option won the game for the Ravens, with Jackson’s ability as a runner carrying the brunt of the work.


  • Run - 26
  • Pass- 11
  • PA - 15
  • RO - 13
  • RPO - 0
  • Screen - 0

Greg Roman dialed up a ton of bootlegs and options, with some play action sprinkled in.

The Ravens offensive line man handled the 49ers front, keeping clean pockets all day.

Jackson will probably be sick watching tape, realizing how much more time he had to throw. He could’ve hung in the pocket, rolled, and let receivers find more soft spots.

The lack of deep shots really didn’t allow Ravens receivers to get involved. Hollywood Brown’s lone catch was on a pop pass. San Francisco’s safeties were daring the Ravens to throw the ball over their heads, and as much as I would’ve liked to see more deep passing, the Ravens won without it.

There need to be more one on one shots to Miles Boykin, but the Ravens won by playing keep away regardless.


Offensive notes:

Lamar is starting to get better with hard snap, making defense jup. His cadence can be a weapon, which adds another element to the puzzle that the Ravens offense presents.

Hayden Hurst is about as reliable as it gets. His feel for where to be and when is coming up in huge moments. I’ll continue to scream from the mountain top that he needs more targets.

When the Ravens offense takes field, the home crowd goes wild. It’s the first time in that the Ravens offense has been truly admired by fans in team history . . . as they should be.

The Ravens offense has a chance to break NFL single season records in:

• Points per possession

• Percentage it drives ending in a score

• Time of possession per drive

• Rushing yards in a 16-game season

The Ravens offense needs to be talked about as one of (if not the) best and most efficient offenses in league history.

In close games, Lamar seems to rely a bit too heavily on Mark Andrews. It’s predictable. Conversely, Jackson needs to look to Seth Roberts and Miles Boykin more. They’re open.

Patrick Mekari is looking like an upgrade from Matt Skura in some aspects. His pass protection is probably stronger as a whole.


Defensive notes:

The Ravens were stubborn to defend the outside zone runs. They seemingly were anticipating counters and weak side runs all game, before finally adjusting to shut down the Shanahan family staple at the end of the third quarter.

The 49ers run the ball well and gave the Ravens similar trouble to what the Cleveland Browns presented in Week 4.

Earl Thomas III popped George Kittle and sent him out of bounds, Earl made good plays against run aside, from being juked by Raheem Mostert. Thomas also recorded his career first sack.

Thomas also laid a cold shoulder on Kittle out of bounds. Marlon Humphrey also knocked into Kittle and blew him backwards near the first down marker.

Speaking of Humphrey, the third-year corner has exclusively taken over slot corner duties. It’s a bit of a conundrum.

Humphrey is one of the premier boundary cornerbacks in football. He also is a force as an outside corner in the run game, who forces everything back inside and can blow up screens. He also happens to be the most well-equipped man for the job as a slot corner. He has the best feet, he’s a great tackler and covers over routes well.

There is certainly drop off with Humphrey being moved inside, but the Ravens have no other option. It will help in the long run, so hopefully Humphrey is a quick learner.

The Ravens blitzed on 21 of the 49ers’ 26 drop backs, which forced Jimmy Garoppolo to be a bit trigger happy. Chuck Clark’s forced fumble was a pivotal play in the game.

“Wink” Martindale was never going to let Jimmy G’ get comfortable.

The defense had a few fluke plays, which happens in extreme weather conditions. They were able to hold the 49ers to just three points in the second half, despite having significant problems stopping the run.

The Ravens surely tighten up on third down and in the red zone, which is what any defensive coordinator strives for.


Final thoughts:

The 49ers were holding, blocking in the back, hitting late, grabbing and cut blocking in an attempt to out physical the more physical team.

To beat the Ravens, that’s the best you can hope for, especially on the road.

The Ravens heroes aside from Lamar Jackson were Chris Moore, Hayden Hurst, Chuck Clark, Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort. Oh, and that dude Justin Tucker.

The Ravens operate as a whole, where the role players step up when called on. Every player seems to be patiently waiting for their turn to make a game defining play, yet without causing any headaches in line.

Baltimore’s offensive line is playing the type of football that takes teams far in January and into February. This game was supposed to be the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object, headlining Lamar Jackson and the 49ers vaunted defense.

In the fourth quarter, the game turned into the unstoppable force being protected by immovable objects.

The offensive line was the MVP of this game, alongside Justin Tucker.