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Ravens will attempt to slow down 49ers' Kaepernick

NEW ORLEANS - They neutralized future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady in their AFC championship win over the New England Patriots. They limited another future Hall of Fame quarterback in Peyton Manning during their divisional round victory over the Denver Broncos. And they contained one of the league's top young players at the position in Andrew Luck during their wild-card win over the Indianapolis Colts.

But Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens will face a different type of threat at the quarterback position in the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick - a multi-dimensional and dynamic second-year player that Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis compared to former Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowler Randall Cunningham.

"He is one of those freakish athletes," Lewis said of Kaepernick. "If I had to compare him with someone, it would be Randall Cunningham, just by his style of play and how they both slung the ball a certain way. Both of them are very long. [And Kaepernick] can run very, very well."

But, like Cunningham, Kaepernick's proven dangerous as both a runner and a passer.

He took over as the 49ers' starting quarterback in mid-November. In his nine games as a starter, he's rushed for an average of 49 yards per game and thrown for an average of 234 yards per game. He's thrown 13 touchdowns with just four interceptions.

He threw for 221 yards and a touchdown while completing 16 of his 21 pass attempts in San Francisco's 28-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC championship. A week earlier, Kaepernick accounted for 444 yards and four touchdowns in the 49ers' 45-31 divisional round win over the Green Bay Packers. He passed for 263 yards and two scores and added 181 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, including a 56-yard scoring run early in the second half.

"Colin is one of the rarest athletes I have been around, and I have been around a lot of them," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "I think he is one of the rarest athletes in the NFL at the position. A guy that can throw it with such accuracy, run and have the mind he has - it is a dangerous weapon."

San Francisco is averaging 29 points per game since Kaepernick took over as its starting quarterback.

"He's very dangerous," Ravens safety Ed Reed said of Kaepernick. "He can run and throw the ball. And any time you have a quarterback like a [Michael] Vick, Randall Cunningham or a Doug Williams, those guys like who can be in the pocket and also throw the ball, it poses a problem."

But it's not just Kaepernick.

Running back Frank Gore's a four-time Pro Bowler who rushed for 1,217 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season and 209 yards and three scores in the two playoff games.

Tight end Vernon Davis is a former Pro Bowler who had five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown in the NFC championship game.

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has 93 yards or more in five of the last seven games and six touchdowns during that seven game span.

There's an older but still dangerous Randy Moss, another athletic and talented tight end in Delanie Walker and a speedy running back that complements Gore in rookie LaMichael James.

"The thing that's good for the 49ers and Kaepernick is that they've got weapons," said former San Francisco and Detroit Lions coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci. "They've got playmakers at tight end and receiver, which keeps safeties back, and they've got a heck of a running back in Frank Gore. That all makes a Kaepernick - who's able to run the ball, run the option, run play action and throw the ball down the field - it makes him very difficult to defend."

But Baltimore's defense has been stingy in the playoffs.

The Ravens have been stout against the run - limiting opposing running backs to an average of just 3.6 yards per carry. They've applied consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks - sacking Luck and Manning three times each and recording seven quarterback hits on Brady. And they've made plays as a pass defense - tallying five interceptions in the three playoff games.

Luck threw for 288 yards, but he completed just 28 of his 54 pass attempts. Manning was limited to just 121 yards during the final two-plus quarters. And Brady, while he did throw for 320 yards, completed only 29 of his 54 pass attempts and had just one scoring pass to go along with two interceptions.

Asked Wednesday if he feels Baltimore will be able to contain Kaepernick, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said, "If we do what we're supposed to do, I think we can. Yes."

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