Baltimore Ravens WR Torrey Smith has established himself as one of the NFL’s premier deep threats. This season, 43 percent of Smith’s receptions were good for 20-plus yards. The second-year pro averaged 17.4 yards per catch, which ranks fourth in the league among players with at least 30 receptions.
Smith will face a San Francisco 49ers defense that does not surrender big plays. According to Andy Benoit of Football Outsiders, Smith’s game-breaking speed may be a non-factor in Super Bowl XLVII.
“Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are not good against tight man coverage. Neither of them is physically strong, and both have trouble maintaining efficiency in their breaks. Smith showed … in the AFC title game that he can be completely eliminated by an underneath man defender who has safety help over the top. That’s how the Niners will play him this Sunday.”
Man coverage with two deep safeties is the scheme of choice for the Niners D. And “man coverage is also what teams have played against the Ravens all season,” Benoit reports.
Donte Whitner is one of those safeties who provides help over the top. So how will the 49ers secondary contain a burner with 4.43 40-Yard speed like Smith?
“It looks like a blur if you’re not focused on what you’re supposed to be watching,” Whitner says. “You have to know mentally what to focus on, and then focus your eyes on it.”
You can bet the physical 49ers secondary will jam Smith at the line of scrimmage in an effort to disrupt his rhythm.
And if the Niners stick to their guns with a heavy dose of man coverage, expect a quiet night from Smith and more targets to Ravens WR Anquan Boldin.
Check out STACK’s continuing coverage of Super Bowl XLVII.