49ers, shaky offense fail to grind out win in Baltimore; fall to 9-2

Mr. Destiny breaking down the 49ers-Ravens defensive battle on Thanksgiving night

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS 16

49ERS: Alex Smith and the Niners were finally stopped in their tracks against an elite defense. This game was expected to be the largest test for the 49ers and their possibilities of making a real push in the playoffs. Both defenses exposed the weaknesses in the opposing offense and not too much should be read into the game since both are elite defensive squads. Frank Gore was unable to make his usual contribution, being held to just 39 yards on 14 carries. Alex Smith didn’t perform poorly, but he didn’t perform well either. In his defense, the receivers were in blanket coverage constantly which didn’t help Smith’s chances under pressure. The Niners are an excellent team in executing the fundamentals and not turning the ball over, but lack the splash play potential. It has been the knock on them all season as their lone weakness and could have turned the tide here. Their division is all but locked up, needing just one more win to clinch it. There is still plenty of time to add some high risk/high reward plays to the scheme which will help in their playoff run.

RAVENS: The Ravens offense did just enough more to eek this one out with Flacco’s touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta in the 4th quarter. The biggest surprise was the ability of Anquan Boldin to find space en route to his 63-yard day. I had expected the Niners to focus their efforts on stopping Boldin and Rice, but instead ran their usual aggressive defense up front with little help in the secondary. While overall it did work, they bent enough for Flacco to engineer the 16-play, 76-yard scoring drive. The Ravens now sit one game up on the Steelers and have only two winning teams to face in their next five games.

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