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Preview, prediction for Ravens (1-4) at 49ers (1-4)


Preview, prediction for Ravens (1-4) at 49ers (1-4)

An analysis and prediction for Ravens at 49ers, Sunday (4:25), a game both 1-4 teams need to win desperately:

Why the Ravens could win:

1. They should move the ball against the 49ers’ porous defense.

San Francisco is ranked 31st overall, next-to-last, in total defense. Generating offense has not been the problem for the Ravens. Quarterback Joe Flacco and company could be looking at another 30-point plus game.

2. The Ravens should be able to pressure 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick

Only Alex Smith of the Chiefs (sacked 22 times) and Russell Wilson of the Seahawks (21) have been sacked more than Kaepernick (16). If Kaepernick can’t set his feet to throw, he often struggles to throw accurately.

3. Important road games often bring out the Ravens’ best.

Their only win came at Pittsburgh, and during Flacco’s time in Baltimore, many of his best games have come on the road. This will feel like a road playoff game, and the Ravens seem to embrace that kind of atmosphere.

Why the 49ers could win:

1. Kaepernick is coming off his best game of the season.

If Derek Carr of the Raiders and Josh McCown of the Browns are capable of carving up the Ravens’ defense, there is reason to believe Kaepernick can do the same. Kaepernick regained some confidence Week 5 against the Giants (23 completions, two touchdowns, 107.1 quarterback rating). Meanwhile, his mobility gives the Ravens another dimension to worry about.

Said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees, “I think he has converted more third downs with his feet than he has his arm, and that’s scary. If he gets loose, he’s a nightmare.”

2. Wide receiver Torrey Smith can take the top off the Ravens’ defense.

The former Ravens’ receiver will be stoked for this game, and the Ravens have struggled with other speed receivers like Amari Cooper (Raiders) and A. J. Green (Bengals). Smith is going to test the Ravens’ secondary, and the result may be a few game-changing plays.

3. Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (back) may not be 100 percent, if he even plays.

Smith’s toughness is well-documented, but if he plays, he’ll be making a speedy recovery from micro fractures in his back. If he’s not 100 percent, that will help a 49ers defense which struggles against the pass.

PREDICTION: Look for another close game, but this time, the Ravens find a way to win it.

RAVENS 23, 49ERS 20

Prediction record this season: 2-3

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?