December 2, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Justin Smith (94) sacks St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated San Francisco 16-13 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
5. Justin Smith: Yes, that Justin Smith, the former Bengal. The only player I have ever seen get called for roughing the passer during a legit quarterback sack vs Miami in 2007. Justin Smith will undoubtedly play, or at least try to play Sunday, but he will not be 100%. If his injured triceps catches up with him and he goes out early and often, the 49ers defense may not be able to recover. With Ray Rice seemingly all over the field on any given play, it is up to the normally stout 49ers front seven to wreak havoc on the Ravens offense. Justin Smith’s amount of on field time will be a key factor in the play of the defense. This 49ers defense is just not the same when he is not on the field, and needs him to take most of the snaps. Without him there, their defense might be singing Hey Diddle Diddle Ray Rice, where is Ray Rice? Gone.
Amidst all the distractions of what the Super Bowl is and what it has to offer, remember the only thing that matters happens between the hashes. Keep an eye on these 5 players throughout game and pay attention to who steps up and who falls flat. My final prediction for this game is San Francisco 20 and Baltimore 14. With a sixth super bowl victory, 49ers fans can finally talk to Steelers fans because the only rhetoric I ever hear when they lose is, “talk to me when you win six super bowls.” Enjoy the game.