Colin Kaepernick 49ersOne of the things that has interested me the most this week that doesn’t involve Harbaugh brothers, deer antler spray, homosexuals in the locker room or who is the greatest wide receiver of all time has been which team is the most talented.

Earlier in the week Bill Barnwell wrote a very interesting article on how the Ravens have built their team over the last few years into one of the most consistent winners in the NFL, while Don Banks took a look at the sheer amount of first round picks the 49ers have accumulated on their roster.

Taking the different ways the two teams have been built, I looked how they stacked up against each other. To try to figure this out I went over to Pro Football Focus and compared the ratings for each player at each starting position. I took the overall rating for each player for the regular season plus postseason and then prorated it to 60 snaps, which is roughly a full games worth of playing time to see which team has an edge at the position.

Offense:

Player
Per 60
snaps
Position
Per 60
 snaps
Player
Joe Flacco
0.5
QB
1.5
Colin Kaepernick
Ray Rice
0.8
RB
1.1
Frank Gore
Bernard Pierce
2.0
RB
1.1
LaMichael James
Vonta Leach
2.3
FB
1.3
Bruce Miller
Torrey Smith
0.4
WR
1.9
Michael Crabtree
Anquan Boldin
0.7
WR
0.6
Randy Moss
Jacoby Jones
0.7
WR
0.2
Ted Ginn
Dennis Pitta
0.8
TE
1.0
Vernon Davis
Ed Dickson
-0.9
TE
0.4
Delanie Walker
Michael Oher
-0.4
RT
1.5
Anthony Davis
Marshal Yanda
1.4
RG
1.4
Alex Boone
Matt Birk
0.6
C
0.7
Jonathan Goodwin
Kelechi Osemele
-0.1
LG
1.0
Mike Iupati
Bryant McKinnie
0.9
LT
2.3
Joe Staley

 

The 49ers have the edge in 9 of the 14 positions on offense with one push. Colin Kaepernick has graded out as a much better quarterback than Joe Flacco. If you take a look at things week by week you see that Flacco has had higher highs, but much lower lows. Kaepernick in contrast has been far more consistent (not what you expect from a guy with so little starting experience) who is also capable of big games.

The one spot that the Ravens have the edge is depth in the backfield and at wide receiver. Bernard Pierce has been nearly Ray Rice’s equal in a quarter of the playing time. LaMichael James has done well filling in for Kendall Hunter, but has not been quite as effective. The other player the 49ers might be missing is Mario Manningham — the drop off from Manningham to Ted Ginn is pretty large. Fortunately the 49ers have two effective tight ends who can fill that void.

The 49ers biggest advantage in this game is in the offensive line. The 49ers have the edge in 4 out of the 5 positions, with a tie at the center spot. Hopefully this means that the 49ers should be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.

Defense:

Player
Per 60
 snaps
Position
Per 60
 snaps
Player
Cary Williams
-0.2
CB
0.7
Tarell Brown
Corey Graham
0.4
CB
0.2
Carlos Rogers
Chykie Brown
-1.3
CB
0.2
Chris Culliver
Ed Reed
-0.1
FS
0.1
Dashon Goldson
Bernard Pollard
0.1
SS
0.0
Donte Whitner
Courtney Upshaw
0.0
OLB
1.1
Aldon Smith
Ray Lewis
-0.9
ILB
0.9
Navorro Bowman
Dannell Ellerbe
0.3
ILB
1.4
Patrick Willis
Terrell Suggs
-0.8
OLB
0.6
Ahmad Brooks
Haloti Ngata
0.8
DE
1.4
Justin Smith
Ma’ake Kemoeatu
-0.7
NT
-1.6
Isaac Sopoaga
Pernell McPhee
0.9
DE
0.6
Ray McDonald

 

On defense it’s pretty much the same story, with the 49ers having the edge at eight of 12 positions. Some of the margins are not as large as they are on the offensive side, but taken as a whole the 49ers seem to have an edge at each level of defense.

In the secondary, the 49ers have the edge at three of the five spots. The 49ers cornerbacks against the top three receivers for the Ravens will be one of the matchups to watch. The 49ers secondary got burned in Atlanta, but has shown this year that they are one of the better units against the deep ball. They will need to bring their “A” game against the Ravens.

Looking at the linebackers it is again heavily in the 49ers favor with the edge at all four spots. The Ravens have the big names in Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, but they are both past their primes and no longer near what the 49ers will put on the field. The 49ers have the third and fifth ranked 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL and their inside linebackers are ranked first and seventh. This is a pretty impressive group of talent.

On the defensive line, the Ravens have the edge in two of the three spots, but the edge is not especially large. Justin Smith is one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in football and has looked surprisingly proficient even while playing through an injury. Neither nose tackle has been very impressive this season, but Ma’ake Kemoeatu grades out better than Isaac Sopoaga. Lastly Pernell McPhee has a slight edge over Ray McDonald, but McDonald has still been a positive presence for the 49ers defense this year.