Both Baltimore and San Fransisco are peaking; the 49ers' NFC title win over Atlanta was the first time all season the team has won three straight. As both teams look to exploit the best mismatches, the game is set to feature some tremendous individual battles, many of which have been overlooked amidst the star power this particular Super Bowl offers. Let's take at look at two that aren't getting enough attention:
Michael Oher vs. Aldon Smith
Oher, as previously noted, is an ideal fit for right tackle instead of left. He's an extremely deft run blocker and an improving pass protector. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been pressured just 23 times in three postseason games, or four fewer than his regular-season average.
From the other side, the 49ers have just two sacks in their three playoff games, an almost unfathomable stat after such dominance in that department all season. Aldon Smith, despite his 19.5 regular-season sacks, hasn't recorded one in the last five consecutive games. Smith absolutely loves to stunt and is more effective rushing from the left side -- which is where Oher comes in. The winner of this matchup will ultimately prove crucial, especially given Baltimore's near 450-yard average of total offense in the playoffs.
Torrey Smith vs. 49ers secondary
Ray Rice may be the Ravens' premier offensive player, but Smith is their best weapon. A true burner with improving hands, he exposed Denver in the divisional round and is Baltimore's best big-play option. Flacco throws a beautiful deep ball and should three or four shots down the field to Smith, especially from play-action. Smith will now have the challenge of San Francisco's man coverage and vaunted two-deep shell with its safeties. If he can get over the top, such a threat opens up Flacco's intermediate game to Anquan Boldin and the versatile tight end Dennis Pitta, not to mention Rice, who thrives with a light box.