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Bad weather expected for 49ers-Ravens, so which team does that favor?

Bad weather expected for 49ers-Ravens, so which team does that favor?

If you're heading to the 49ers-Ravens game in Baltimore on Sunday, bring a poncho. Heck, bring four. It still might not be enough.

Sunday's highly anticipated game between two Super Bowl hopefuls is expected to be a bad weather game. When I say bad, well, just have a look:

It's going to be cold, wet and humid. Not exactly a quarterback's dream scenario.

So, it begs the question: Which team does the forecast favor more?

At first glance, San Francisco might appear to be the answer, despite the fact that the 49ers will be playing on the road against the highest-scoring team in the NFL. Why? Because they've been there before.

In Week 7, San Francisco went into a torrential downpour in Washington and came out of the mud bowl with a 9-0 shutout road win. It certainly wasn't the prettiest 49ers' performance this season, as evidenced by their muddied uniforms following the victory. The weather significantly hampered both passing attacks and kicking games, but of the two teams, the 49ers performed far better in both categories. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for twice as many yards as Case Keenum, and while Robbie Gould missed one field-goal attempt, he converted his three others for the only points in the game. Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins missed his lone attempt.

The Ravens, on the other hand, haven't had a bad weather game yet this season. They've played in a slight drizzle twice, but nothing like the weather that is expected Sunday in Baltimore.

So, it favors San Francisco, right?

Not so fast. It's not that simple.

Just like in Week 7, Sunday's weather likely will result in both offenses favoring the run more than the pass. The problem for the 49ers, then, is that the Ravens are a far better rushing team than Washington. They're not just good or even great. They're the best in the league.

Baltimore averages 210.5 rush yards per game. San Francisco ranks second in the league with an average of 145.6. That's a bigger difference than between the 49ers and Bengals, who rank 28th in the NFL with 81.1 rush yards per contest.

And the Ravens' leading rusher isn't even a running back. That would be quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is the MVP frontrunner and on pace to set the single-season rushing record by a QB. He is the focus of every opposing defense he faces, and rightfully so, but Baltimore has planned for that.

Behind Jackson, the Ravens have one of the strongest running-back tandems in the league with Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards, both of whom average 5.2 yards per carry and have combined for 1,223 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. At least two of Jackson, Ingram and Edwards usually are on the field at the same time, and they're all capable of breaking a big one.

But what about the defenses? Don't the 49ers have an advantage there?

Based on pure talent, yes. San Francisco arguably has the best defense in the league, and as evidenced by Sunday night's win over the Packers, the 49ers' front seven can wreak havoc on any game plan.

But the QBs that have somewhat been able to expose San Francisco's defense have been of the dual-threat variety, and Jackson is the scariest of that bunch. Arizona's Kyler Murray has given the 49ers a lot of trouble both times they faced him this season, and Seattle's Russell Wilson dealt them their only loss.

[RELATED: 49ers can't make same zone-read mistakes vs. Lamar Jackson]

Now, the bad weather might hamper Jackson's ability to cut and change direction, thereby limiting his impact as a runner. However, one would assume he'll still be somewhat of a running threat at a minimum, and that's an advantage that San Francisco can't match.

If the 49ers have an advantage other than prior experience, it's their rushing attack against Baltimore's rush defense. The Ravens only allow 87.7 rushing yards per game so far this season which ranks third-best in the league. But that's more a reflection of the success of their rushing offense than it is their defense. Baltimore averages 35:05 of possession per game (1st in NFL), nearly two minutes more than San Francisco, which ranks second. In the Ravens' back-to-back losses in Weeks 3 and 4, they gave up 140 and 193 yards rushing to the Chiefs and Browns, respectively.

The 49ers are at their best when they're running effectively enough to set up the play-action pass. They very well might do that against the Ravens on Sunday, but even if they do, the weather might rule out their resulting advantage through the air.

Baltimore doesn't have the same concern, or at least not to the same degree. If passing seems all but impossible, they can revert to their bread and butter, and let Jackson and the rushing attack do their thing.

The weather shouldn't be a major advantage for either side. But even if it tilts ever so slightly towards Baltimore, that could prove the difference between two seemingly evenly-matched teams.

NFL rumors: Raiders work out safety D.J. Swearinger for secondary help

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USATSI

NFL rumors: Raiders work out safety D.J. Swearinger for secondary help

Since rookie safety Johnathan Abram injured his shoulder in his NFL debut in Week 1, the Raiders have searched for the right mix in their secondary. 

The Silver and Black reportedly tried to fill (part of) that void Monday. The Raiders brought in veteran safety D.J. Swearinger for a workout, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport. 

Rapoport later reported that Treston Decoud joined Swearinger in the Oakland workout.

The Arizona Cardinals cut Swearinger in September after four games in which he struggled. Pro Football Focus found Swearinger allowed a passer rating of 145.3 this season, less than a year after Swearinger graded out as one of the NFL's best safeties. Washington released Swearinger late last season after criticism of defensive coordinator Greg Manusky proved to be the last straw. 

Swearinger's coach at the time was Jay Gruden, brother of Raiders coach Jon Gruden. The younger Gruden no longer is with Washington after being fired this season, so whatever hard feelings there were seem to have dissipated enough if Gruden's brother was going to explore bringing in Swearinger for a workout, let alone signing him. Plus, the Raiders reportedly tried to claim him off waivers when Washington first cut Swearinger last season. 

[RELATED: Where 49ers, Raiders sit in NFL power rankings after Week 9]

The 2013 second-round draft pick certainly would improve the Raiders' depth at safety, and Oakland has been no stranger to signing talented reclamation projects in Gruden's second tenure at the helm. Safeties Erik Harris and Karl Joseph played 100 percent of the Raiders' defensive snaps Sunday, while Lamarcus Joyner's versatility will keep him on the field, too. So, it's not apparent that Swearinger would be anything more than a depth piece.

Of course, the Raiders didn't expect to be without Abram for the vast majority of his rookie season, either. It doesn't hurt to be prepared, and Swearinger's pedigree could make him a strong depth option. 

How Jimmy Garoppolo's career-best performance shows he's over ACL tear

How Jimmy Garoppolo's career-best performance shows he's over ACL tear

Jimmy Garoppolo has come a long way since the preseason.

You might recall San Francisco's starting quarterback looked less than stellar in the 49ers' preseason games against the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. Garoppolo appeared extremely uncomfortable in the pocket, which made sense, considering it was his first live-game action since tearing his ACL the year prior.

You never would have guessed that San Francisco would win its first eight games of the regular season after watching Garoppolo then, but here the 49ers are, halfway through the season and still undefeated, and Garoppolo's improvement has been a major reason why. He produced his best performance of the season in the 49ers' Week 8 win over the Cardinals on Thursday night, in which he threw a career-high four touchdown passes to four separate receivers -- a stark contrast to that preseason debut.

"I feel like he's more comfortable now," NBC Sports Bay Area's Ian Williams said of Garoppolo following San Francisco's 28-25 win. "That first preseason game ... that was his first time out there, live-action. So obviously coming off the injury, it's going to take some time to be able to build that rapport and that confidence in your head, and for your muscle memory to respond when you need it to. 

"But he's gotten better every week, and they made the acquisition last week to add Emmanuel Sanders to add some more firepower to that receiving corps. But tonight, he really shined. He hit four receivers with touchdowns, spread the ball out and he was making throws that he hadn't really done in the preseason and maybe earlier in the season where he's stepping into throws, he's avoiding the pass rush and then he's throwing the ball when he can't even see the people ... That's just showing to me that he's totally over his ACL, and he's in a rhythm right now."

[RELATED: 49ers riding easy connection between Garoppolo, Sanders]

Nothing spoke to Garoppolo's improved comfort within the pocket more than his deft footwork against the Cardinals, which he used to avoid multiple sacks and extend several crucial plays. It was yet another instance in which he displayed his underrated mobility.

"Yeah, I feel like he showed that in Washington two weeks ago," Williams recalled. "In the rain, in the mud, him being able to avoid the pass rush and convert on some critical third downs. If he doesn't convert those with his legs, I don't know if [the 49ers] win that game. And then tonight, he was able to make guys miss and be able to get to space to be able to deliver the ball downfield."

Garoppolo continues to improve the further he distances himself from that ACL tear. If he keeps this up, neither he nor his mobility will be underrated much longer.