1. Pressure Flacco
As good as he's been in the playoffs, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is prone to mistakes. Flacco has three separate three-interception games this season, though he's yet to throw a pick in the playoffs. Still, with one of the NFL's top sackers in Aldon Smith coming off the edge, Flacco could be forced into some hurried throws.
2. Control the deep ball
Flacco's success in the postseason has largely been due to his receivers' ability to run under deep balls and make plays. Wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones have made a habit of getting behind defensive backs and making plays on the ball. The 49ers secondary cannot allow Flacco to throw deep with success, especially early. If Baltimore can establish an effective air attack from the outset, the San Francisco defense will open up for running back Ray Rice.
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3. Guard against the big return
The Ravens possess the top kickoff return team in the NFL, thanks in large part to Jones. The Ravens have, at times, shown an inability to effectively move the football. Giving them free yards -- and potentially points -- on kickoff returns would be an unnecessary bump in the path for San Francisco. Points are expected to be at a premium Sunday; the 49ers can't allow the Ravens to take the easy way to the end zone.
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