Ravens Vs. 49ers

Nfl Week 13

Today, 1 P.m., M&t Bank Stadium, Ch. 45

November 30, 2003|By JAMISON HENSLEY

SCOUTING REPORT

Ravens run offense vs. 49ers run defense -- RAVENS

The Ravens' physical offensive line presents a heavy challenge for the 49ers. All of the Ravens' linemen are 300-plus pounds, whereas San Francisco doesn't have a starter in its front four over 292 pounds. Jamal Lewis, who entered Week 13 as the league's leading rusher, has gained at least 115 yards in four of his five home games. In their past three road games, the 49ers have given up an average of 203 yards rushing. Outside linebacker Julian Peterson (flu and thigh) is expected to start; inside linebacker Jeff Ulbrich (ankle and thigh) will be a game-time decision.

Ravens pass offense vs. 49ers pass defense -- 49ERS

In splitting out Todd Heap or Marcus Robinson, the Ravens have a 5-to-7-inch advantage on cornerback Jason Webster, who is replacing the taller Mike Rumph (out with an ankle injury). To capitalize, the Ravens need to show more consistency in throwing deep. Plus, San Francisco won't give them that much time since it blitzes as much as any team in the NFL. The 49ers rank second in the league with 30 sacks. When the pocket has collapsed, Ravens quarterback Anthony Wright has been indecisive at times. Wright also can't force throws against the 49ers, who have 17 interceptions (tied for fourth in the NFL).

49ers run offense vs. Ravens run defense -- EVEN

San Francisco has a dangerous, two-pronged rushing attack with Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow, who have combined for 1,264 yards on the ground. An important battle is whether fullback Fred Beasley, considered one of the top lead blockers in the league, can handle inside linebacker Ray Lewis. The 49ers will miss injured Pro Bowl right guard Ron Stone, which forces them to shuffle their line. An injury to Ravens defensive end Tony Weaver will increase the playing time of Jarret Johnson and Maake Kemoeatu. The Ravens have allowed only two of their past six opponents to average more than 4 yards per carry.

49ers pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense -- EVEN

Jeff Garcia returns after missing three games with a high ankle sprain. The X-factor is whether the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will be rusty or fresh. Facing the Ravens - the NFL's sack leader - Garcia likely will use three-step drops to get the ball off quickly. The marquee matchup pits 49ers receiver Terrell Owens and Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister, who match each other in size and speed. The NFL's eighth-ranked pass defense will have a more youthful look, with free safety Gary Baxter making his fourth start at cornerback this season and veteran Corey Fuller being limited to passing situations. Will Demps fills in at Baxter's free safety spot.

Special teams -- RAVENS

The Ravens have a decided edge in the kicking game. Matt Stover is 25-for-27 on field-goal tries this season, hitting his past 15 attempts. The 49ers are on their third kicker this season, Todd Peterson, who is 5-for-7, including a 28-yard miss last Sunday. Ravens punter Dave Zastudil (42.0-yard average) has been more consistent than his counterpart, Bill LaFleur (39.6). The coverage units for both teams have been excellent.

Intangibles -- RAVENS

The Ravens are 4-1 at home; the 49ers are 0-5 on the road. The Ravens are minus-4 in turnover differential; the 49ers are plus-12. San Francisco is in a tough position, having to travel cross-country after playing in Green Bay a week ago. Injuries have forced the 49ers to shuffle their offensive line again and have taken a toll on their defense.

Prediction -- RAVENS

The Ravens can wear down the 49ers, a banged-up and road-troubled team. Expect the Ravens' offensive line to set the tone and their pass rush to finish it off. Ravens, 23-13.

GAME FACTS

Records

49ers 5-6 Ravens 6-5

Line

Ravens by 3

Vs. spread

49ers 5-5-1 Ravens 6-4-1

Series

49ers lead 1-0

Last meeting

49ers won, 38-20, on Nov. 17, 1996, in San Francisco.

NFL rankings

49ers offense: Overall (11), rush (5), pass (16).

49ers defense: Overall (12), rush (9), pass (14).

Ravens offense: Overall (20), rush (2), pass (32).

Ravens defense: Overall (5), rush (10), pass (8).

Quick hits

49ers are 15-1 when RB Garrison Hearst rushes for 100 yards or more.

49ers' 27 takeaways are tied for fourth most in the league.

Ravens have been in first place or tied for the AFC North lead for the past 11 weeks.

Ravens S Ed Reed has blocked four punts in 27 career games.

Injuries

49ERS: Out: WR Arnaz Battle (toe); G Ron Stone (hamstring). Doubtful: CB Mike Rumph (ankle). Questionable: G Eric Heitmann (ankle); LB Julian Peterson (flu/thigh); LB Jeff Ulbrich (ankle/thigh). Probable: S Ronnie Heard (knee); C Jeremy Newberry (ankle); WR Terrell Owens (groin); CB Ahmed Plummer (groin); WR Tai Streets (quadriceps).

RAVENS: Out: QB Kyle Boller (leg); DE Tony Weaver (neck). Doubtful: CB Tom Knight (ankle). Questionable: CB Corey Fuller (leg); TE John Jones (leg); WR Marcus Robinson (chest). Probable: OT Orlando Brown (leg); RB Chester Taylor (neck); QB Anthony Wright (shoulder).

STARTING LINEUPS

Ravens offense

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