When former Browns and Jets head coach Eric Mangini broke down the matchups for Super Bowl XLVII for ESPN one thing became evident — the Ravens might not be able to put enough players on the field to adequately defend 49ers tight end Vernon Davis.
"He has a chance to be the MVP in this game," Mangini said.
All week, as the Ravens talked about defending the 49ers, the stated concerns have been quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the read-option, running backs Frank Gore and LaMichael James and the deep threats of Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss.
If you go back before the NFC championship game, the Falcons talked essentially about the same things, in the same order. The result, Davis slipped through the cracks for five receptions, 106 yards and a touchdown.
"It's all about how the defense plays you," said Davis, who in four postseason games has 16 catches for 442 yards, 27.6 yards per catch. "In the past, defenses would change coverages and not allow me to get open. In the Atlanta game, they took their eyes off me and I was able to get open numerous times."
Defending the 49ers is certainly a pick-your-poison dilemma. As offensive coordinator Greg Roman said, "That is what we want to do. We want to try to put pressure on 11 people on the field. Make it a bad day for them."
Still, from the sound of it, the Ravens plan to keep at least one set of eyes on Davis.
"You can't sleep on Vernon Davis," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "You can't sleep on any of those guys. I mean, you know people don't talk much about Randy Moss but he can 'Randy' you at any time. What does that mean? It means go up over top of you downfield and make a play over guys who are sitting in their cover. He's been doing that his whole career.
"Vernon Davis is just a spectacular athlete — he's a good blocker as well — but the crossing routes, the seam routes, the seven routes, all the routes running downfield away from the quarterback. Colin Kaepernick is exceptionally gifted in that area, throwing those routes. Those two guys have the chemistry and they're capable of making the big play and lighting it up at any time."
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130201/SPORTS0101/302010351#ixzz2JewO1Fdr
49ers tight end Vernon Davis grows up
Detroit News | Feb 1