Ravens coach John Harbaugh says the game plan for stopping 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick comes down to this: Don’t let him get to the outside, and when you have a shot at him, don’t miss the tackle.
“We’re going to have to tackle him. We’re going to have to keep him inside of our defense,” Harbaugh said at his press conference today. “We’re not going to be able to run past him. He’s fully capable of putting 200 yards on you, just as capable as Frank Gore is or any of their running backs. He’s not just an integral part of their passing game, he’s a huge part of their run game. We’ll have a plan for it. Assignment football is going to be really important for us. Change-ups are going to be important for us. We just have to play well against him.”
Harbaugh was asked about the Ravens’ regular-season loss to the Redskins, in which Robert Griffin III led two first-quarter touchdown drives but was largely kept in check after that before ultimately getting knocked out of the game with a knee injury late in the fourth quarter. Harbaugh said he liked the way his defense was able to adjust against the Redskins, but he cautioned that the 49ers’ offense and the Redskins’ offense are not the same thing.
“We did a pretty good job in that game once we got our feet on the ground against RG3,” Harbaugh said. “They took the first two drives down there but once we had a feel for the offense I thought we did OK. It’s a similar offense, style-wise, but it’s not the same offense by any stretch so it’s hard to compare those two games. Just the way they run the offense, the foundation of the offense is different, it’s not the same base offense, and even the blocking schemes and the read-option stuff is a bit different. And even the style of play of the two quarterbacks, they’re both great in their own right, but they bring different things to the table.”
One area where preparing for Griffin is similar to preparing for Kaepernick is that Dennis Dixon is the scout-team quarterback for both. The Ravens’ coaches praised Dixon before the Redskins game for the way he used his experience as a read-option quarterback at Oregon to help Baltimore’s defense prepare for Griffin, and Harbaugh said today that Dixon is now playing the Kaepernick role in practice.
“Dennis will be a big part of that for us. He understands the scheme and the reads and things like that, so he’s very valuable for us,” Harbaugh said.
If Dixon’s help keeps Kaepernick closer to the 21 rushing yards he had against the Falcons than the 181 he had against the Packers, that would make Dixon very valuable indeed.