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In Store For A Physical Super Bowl

Posted Feb 2, 2013

The battle in the trenches is highlighted by 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. OG Kelechi Osemele.


Offensive line coaches are used to seeing big collisions.

But when Ravens Offensive Line Coach Andy Moeller flips on tape of the San Francisco 49ers, he sees more head-banging than usual.

“It’ll be as physical [a] game as we’ve played,” Moeller said Thursday. “We’re playing our greatest opponent on the biggest stage. It’ll be the way it should be, really.”

As reflections of the rough-and-tough (and intensely competitive) Harbaugh brothers, the Ravens and 49ers are both teams that don’t budge for much.

A lot of the physicality will be in the trenches, where games are often won and lost in the NFL.

It’s strength versus strength for the two teams. The 49ers hang their hat on their defensive line and linebackers while Baltimore’s offensive line has been an essential reason for their Super Bowl run.

“Those guys are a physical team and we’re physical. So, yeah, it will probably be physical,” guard Marshal Yanda said. “That’s fine by me.”

The matchup to highlight is 12-year veteran 49ers defensive end Justin Smith versus Ravens rookie left guard Kelechi Osemele, a second-round pick who has moved from right tackle and started every game this season. Smith has been battling a triceps injury lately, but he’s still a force in the middle of the defense.

Osemele said the 49ers’ defensive front is the most physical he’s seen this season, and said Smith is “easily” the most brutal of the group.

“It’s not even close,” Osemele said. “There’s nobody else in the league that I’ve seen on film this year that is as physical as he is. It’s going to be a challenge. I’m excited.”

The 6-foot-5, 335-pound Osemele compared the 49ers’ toughness to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the Steelers are more of a gap control defense. They create a wall by moving into open spaces.

The 49ers, however, have a penetrating defense. They look to simply win one-on-one battles and try to get into the backfield. They believe they can physically dominate in those battles.

“It’s fun,” Osemele said. “It takes the guesswork out of it. You don’t really have to worry too much about guys moving out of the way when you’re run blocking and stuff. It will be more of a mano-a-mano matchup, which is what I prefer.”

Moeller said the battle between Smith, who logged 66 tackles and three sacks this season, will be a “great matchup.” He believes Osemele is ready to match the 12-year veteran’s physicality.

“He’s got a mean streak,” Moeller said. “K.O. tries to get after your [butt]. He is a competitive guy.”


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