- 49ers Record Traveling East – Prior to this season the 49ers were 4-36 in road games against non-divisional opponents. Most of these games were played on the East Coast. However, since taking over this season, Jim Harbaugh appears to have addressed the general malaise that takes hold on a team when time zones are crossed. The 49ers are 3 -0 in such games this year, almost matching their win total since 2003. Furthermore, they will be looking to go undefeated on the year in East Coast games on Thursday when they enter M & T.
- 49ers Kicking Game – The 49ers thoroughly dominated the Cardinals in the first half of their Week 12, but only held a 6-0 lead with nine minutes left in the first half. Why? David Akers has missed three field goals, two of which were blocked. Look for the Ravens to try and exploit the 49ers blocking and Akers’ line drive field goal kicking style on field goals on Thursday in what is sure to be a close game.
- Jim Harbaugh’s Indecision – Despite Jim Harbaugh being the leading candidate for NFL Coach of the year, he appears pretty green at times. On numerous occasions this season, when the 49ers have failed to convert on 3rd and short in “No Man’s Land”, Jim has had to call timeouts to figure out if he wants to go for it on 4th down. At the end of the game on Thursday having timeouts remaining could be a key difference.
- Health – Only one 49er (Rookie Fullback Bruce Miller) missed 49ers practice on Tuesday. Despite battling through injuries to several key skill players all season (Braylon Edwards, Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore) the 49ers appear quite healthy for Thursday’s game. The Ravens however, are a little more dinged up. Ray Lewis is expected to play but is still recovering from the toe injury that kept him out of the Week 11 game. Furthermore, Chris Carr (back) and Arthur Jones (head) both missed practice on Tuesday.
Ultimately, the game should match the Harbaugh Brothers relationship – close and intense – playing at home gives the Ravens a slight edge but the 49ers are a very formidable opponent, obviously not one to be taken lightly.