The modern NFL is a passing league, so a good pro defense must do two things — rush and cover. The 2015 Ravens do neither well for long stretches of every game.
As a result, no quarterback looks bad against this defense. A week after they were lit up by Josh McCown, they allowed Colin Kaepernick — a guy who has inspired national debates about how he went from phenomenon to replacement-level — to do his Aaron Rodgers imitation.
Poor coverage from an undermanned secondary is the chief problem.
Former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith burned newly-acquired cornerback Wright for a 76-yard touchdown. Not coincidentally, the Ravens gave Kaepernick all the time in the world to set and heave the ball deep.
The entire defense looked slow early in the game when Anquan Boldin reversed his momentum and ran the entire width of the field to gain 15 yards. Boldin also produced a big game against his former team with five catches for 102 yards.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley, who has struggled in recent weeks, couldn’t fight through a stiff-arm on a 28-yard gain by 49ers fullback Bruce Miller. On the next drive, the Ravens completely lost Miller as he streaked down the sideline on a 52-yard catch and run.
The constant injuries have seemingly played havoc with the secondary’s internal communication on such plays.
Cornerback Jimmy Smith dropped a would-be interception in the first quarter, allowing the 49ers to kick a 53-yard field goal. Linebacker Albert McClellan dropped another (tougher) one in the red zone, allowing San Francisco another three points.
It’s not that the defense needs to convert all of those opportunities. It’s that right now, all of the big plays seem to tilt against the Ravens. They haven’t forced a turnover since Week 3.
They actually came into the game tied for sixth in the league in sacks and added another three against San Francisco. But Football Outsiders, a website that examines every play in context, ranked the pass rush 19th in the league through five weeks. That seems closer to reality.