Pistol offense gives Niners the edge in Super Bowl
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To me, the Super Bowl has always been the biggest contradiction in sports. There is no other sporting event in the world with more glitz and glamour than the Super Bowl, with all of its concerts, exclusive commercials and what not. However, when it comes to the game itself, the team that wins always wins ugly, and that will likely be the case Sunday.
The Ravens and 49ers made key personnel moves at mid-season to take their offenses to another level: the 49ers switched quarterbacks, from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick, and the Ravens switched offensive coordinators, from Cam Cameron to Jim Caldwell. Both teams also play physical, smash-mouth football and depend on big plays in the passing game to put up lots of points. The difference is, I see the 49ers' changes as having a more profound effect.
Replacing Smith with Kaepernick was a risky move considering that Smith was not only the team's No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, but he had also led this team to the brink of the Super Bowl last season and was finally gaining success after years of being considered a bust. He had the respect and trust of his teammates and the team was already a Super Bowl contender with him at the helm. But putting Kaepernick in at QB has taken the 49ers offense to another level.
Coming out of the University of Nevada in 2011, Kaepernick had a similar skill set and productivity level as the QB that went No. 1 overall in the draft that year, Auburn's Cam Newton - he just didn't have the same hype as the Heisman Trophy winner. What he did have, however, is an offensive formation tailor-made for his skills that college defenses have struggled to stop and now is terrorizing the NFL.
The Pistol formation is unique, and I think, here to stay because despite resembling passing formation, it also benefits the running game. Unlike its older cousin, the Shotgun formation, the quarterback is a little closer to the line of scrimmage, making running plays a little tougher to diagnose for defenses. Add in the read-option with a QB that can scramble, and you have a near unstoppable offense.
The Ravens have faced another team that runs the Pistol offense this season: the Redskins. They did a solid job on Robert Griffin III, holding him to 242 yards and one TD pass on 15-for-26 passing. However, they failed to stop running back Alfred Morris, who gashed them for 129 yards on 23 carries - a 5.3 yards per carry - on their way to a 31-28 loss in overtime.
I believe Kaepernick runs this offense a lot better than RG3 - he's had more practice at it - and I believe the 49ers defense is a lot more stout than the Redskins', so I see the 49ers adding a late field goal or touchdown on Sunday to win by more than a touchdown.
- Two weeks ago: 1-1; Postseason record: 7-3; Regular season record: 142-85-1
- Kemp Callwood is The Daily News sports editor. His column appears weekly throughout the NFL season.