NFL Wire News

There will be a Harbaugh in the house against 49ers


The Sports Xchange

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Sunday’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens is being labeled as “The Return of Harbaugh.”

No, not Jim Harbaugh. He figures to be watching from his office in Ann Arbor, Mich., trying to relax after his Michigan team’s showdown with Michigan State.

The Harbaugh coming to Levi’s Stadium on Sunday is Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

Yeah, it’s really not much to get excited about, especially with brother Jim not around. Then again, it sure beats slapping “The Battle For Draft Position” across the marquee.

Anyway, the 49ers (1-4) are saving that one for when the ultimate battle for draft position might take place — Week 16 against currently winless Detroit.

When the 49ers, who haven’t won since Opening Day, square off with the Ravens (1-4) on Sunday, there’s a whole lot more to be concerned with than family, the Baltimore coach insisted this week.

“You don’t have time for that,” Harbaugh said of seeking a measure of revenge against a franchise that terminated his brother. “I knew there’d be a question. Good question. Fair question. Yeah, it’s too much to worry about and too much to prepare for. Too many things that we’re dealing with to even think about that stuff.

“That’s very much irrelevant to what we’re trying to accomplish. We got our hands full with what we’re trying to do as a football team to think about any of that stuff.”

Jim Tomsula, who took over as 49ers coach when the club and Jim Harbaugh “parted ways” after the 2014 season, was a defensive line coach when San Francisco and Baltimore met in the Harbaugh Super Bowl — affectionately known as the “Har-Bowl” — on Feb. 3, 2013.

Tomsula, like his Ravens counterpart, had little or nothing to say about any Harbaugh connection to this week’s rematch. His quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, agreed.

“There’s a lot of different personnel,” Kaepernick said in dismissing most of what might have been learned in the previous matchup. “That (game tape) is not something we really look at too much.”

For what it’s worth, the 49ers were 0-2 in Harbaugh head-to-heads, also losing a nationally televised game at Baltimore on Thanksgiving Night 2011.

Since the Super Bowl, which Baltimore won 34-31, the 49ers have changed 15 starters and the Ravens 18, including losing both starting wide receivers — Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith — to San Francisco.

In other words, there’s really no reason — especially for the losing team — to watch the championship-deciding game only 32 months ago.

Heck, John Harbaugh insisted he wouldn’t even call his brother for a scouting report.

“He’s busy, I’m busy,” the Ravens coach said. “And, really, I don’t know what he could add. “We watch them on tape and we see the schemes, and there’s really not too much we could learn that way.”

SERIES HISTORY: Fifth regular-season meeting. Ravens lead, 3-1. The 49ers haven’t beaten the Ravens since 1996, which wouldn’t matter much if they had won the last head-to-head between the two. That was in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2013, a game the Ravens won 34-31. Baltimore also prevailed in the three regular-season matchups since the series opener 19 years ago, including 16-6 in a Thanksgiving Night snoozer in 2011.

GAME PLAN: Neither the 49ers nor the Ravens have had much success stopping the pass this season, so there’s little secret what to expect when they meet Sunday for the first time since the 2012 Super Bowl.

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, coming off his best game of the season, will be attacking a Ravens defense that’s given up the fifth-most yards through the air this season. Baltimore’s defense should be quite familiar with Kaepernick’s two primary targets — wideouts Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith — both of whom played for the Ravens the last time the teams met.


–49ers QB Colin Kaepernick vs. Ravens pass defense.

The Ravens have surrendered the fifth-most passing yards in the NFL. But they need to be equally worried about Kaepernick as a runner. Baltimore has given up rushing touchdowns to far lesser athletes (Andy Dalton and Josh McCown). And the last time the Ravens saw Kaepernick, he was rushing for 62 yards and a touchdown in the 2012 Super Bowl.

–Ravens QB Joe Flacco vs. 49ers pass defense.

There are only four pass defenses that are, statistically, worse than Baltimore’s. One belongs to the 49ers, who were torched by the New York Giants’ Eli Manning for 441 yards last week. In fact, the 49ers have allowed four of the five quarterbacks they’ve faced so far to have their best or second-best days of the season. Flacco already has 384- and 362-yard games.

–49ers K Phil Dawson vs. Ravens K Justin Tucker.

Tucker might be the Ravens’ best offensive weapon. He’s third in the league in field goals, hitting on 11-of-13 attempts. Dawson, meanwhile, is only 6-for-7. But the veteran does have a highlights-filled history against the Ravens, having gone 35-of-37 on field goals, including hitting seven straight from 50 yards or more.

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