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49ers are 1 win from reaching Super Bowl at last

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49ers are 1 win from reaching Super Bowl at last

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Running back Frank Gore arrived for work Monday ready to push through another tough week of game preparation and do everything he can to keep his team playing right into February.

The San Francisco 49ers are one win from the place they've planned to be all along: the Super Bowl.

``Mainly, we're going to plow ahead,'' coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday. ``We're going to continue our work ethic and humility.''

The NFC West champion and No. 2-seeded Niners (12-4-1) will hit the road Friday for Atlanta to face the top-seeded Falcons (14-3) in the NFC title game Sunday.

Any topics that strayed from the job at hand, Harbaugh wanted no part of such chatter - whether talk of his big brother John's Baltimore Ravens' success or former 49ers coach and current Falcons defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan.

The Niners have been to New Orleans once already back in November and won in the Superdome, and they're eager to schedule another trip to the Big Easy for the biggest game yet on Feb. 3.

``We all know it's hard to get back to this point, but we did it,'' Gore said. ``We also know how that feeling was when we didn't get the job done last year. We'll try our best to not get that feeling again.''

This group has been working for the opportunity to reach another championship Sunday since the moment San Francisco's season ended last January with a mistake-filled 20-17 overtime loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Now, it's strong-armed, playmaking Colin Kaepernick under center with a chance to send his team to the franchise's first Super Bowl since after the 1994 season.

Kaepernick dazzled for the sellout home crowd at Candlestick Park in a record-setting playoff debut as San Francisco eliminated the Green Bay Packers with a 45-31 victory Saturday night. The tattooed, second-year pro rushed for a quarterback playoff record 181 yards with a pair of touchdowns - one a 56-yarder - and threw two TD passes to Michael Crabtree.

Kaepernick, whose celebratory flexing of the biceps has become a Twitter sensation, was unfazed after an early pick six that put Green Bay ahead four plays into the game.

``The one thing, I've said this from day one about Colin, since he started playing, he's always been confident,'' center Jonathan Goodwin said. ``When you see a guy that's playing quarterback in this league that young and he's that confident, hats off to him.''

If the 49ers can win in yet another hostile road environment this weekend, they will keep alive the chance of a Harbowl - San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh against his brother, whose Ravens stunned the top-seeded Broncos at Denver and will play at New England for a Super Bowl berth.

``Haaa, haaa! Once again, huh?'' Gore said with a grin when the possibility was mentioned.

Not that anyone in the family - or on the 49ers, for that matter - is thinking too far ahead.

``Proud of them both and excited for them,'' father Jack Harbaugh said Monday. ``Understand how hard they've worked and the preparation that's gone into it.''

His simple message to both coaches: ``Get ahead, stay ahead.'' John beat Jim in their lone head-to-head at Baltimore on Thanksgiving night 2011.

A strong start will be a key for the 49ers, forced to play catch up after Sam Shields ran back the early interception by Kaepernick 52 yards for the game's first points in the divisional playoff matchup.

Atlanta suddenly has some serious momentum at home - and the 49ers know bouncing back from tough breaks is no given at this stage of the postseason with the stakes so high. The Falcons won in thrilling fashion on their home field Sunday, beating the Seattle Seahawks 30-28 on Sunday behind quarterback Matt Ryan and kicker Matt Bryant's game-winning 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds left.

``It's a big task,'' Harbaugh said. ``They had a great season, top seed. They're coming off of a game that gives them a lot of momentum. They're solid in every regard.''

The 49ers don't want to put themselves in such a position where the game is close late and Atlanta has a chance to win at the end again.

``I'd like to see us start faster and continue to do what we do,'' linebacker Patrick Willis said.

If the strong-armed, fleet-footed Kaepernick can keep this up, San Francisco should feel great about its chances of chasing a sixth championship. Fans at sold-out Candlestick Park got into that goal Saturday by waving red rally flags reading ``Quest for Six.''

Still, the 49ers have a five-game road playoff losing streak dating to a 28-3 NFC championship win at Chicago in January 1989 on the way to the organization's third Lombardi Trophy. Harbaugh was a backup quarterback with the Bears at the time.

``I remember Jerry Rice catching a ball down the Niners sideline,'' he said. ``Cold as heck, we got whipped.''

San Francisco also is seeking its first three-game winning streak of the season.

``We're always confident,'' Gore said. ``We'll try to go down there and do it.''

Notes: Harbaugh said David Akers remains the team's kicker, while backup Billy Cundiff will stay on the roster. ... All-Pro DL Justin Smith, who returned Saturday night after missing two games with a partially torn left triceps, got through the game without any problems. ``Played well. Came out of the game as clean as possible,'' Harbaugh said. ``It looked good in practice and the feedback that we were getting from him was positive.'' ... Harbaugh had no update on LT Joe Staley's bruised right arm. X-rays Saturday were negative.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens exercise 2020 fifth-year option on 2016 first-round pick Ronnie Stanley

Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens exercise 2020 fifth-year option on 2016 first-round pick Ronnie Stanley

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could forget that the 2019 NFL Draft is just two days away.

Here's the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. The Ravens have exercised the 2020 fifth-year option on LT Ronnie Stanley, according to a league source of ESPN's Field Yates. The Ravens' 2016 first round pick, Stanley has started 42 games in three seasons.

2. Part of the pre-NFL draft fun that goes on in the months leading up to the big weekend is re-drafting previous drafts. Bleacher Report's Chris Roling re-drafted the 2018 NFL Draft and have the Ravens selecting two completely different players.

Instead of TE Hayden Hurst at No. 25, Roling has the Ravens selecting TE Chris Herndon out of Miami.

"For the sake of value, the re-draft move is Miami's Chris Herndon," Roling said. "He slipped to the New York Jets in the fourth round yet put up 39 catches for 502 yards and four scores and is two-and-a-half years younger than Hurst."

And instead of QB Lamar Jackson, he has the Ravens picking LB Harold Landry out of Boston College.

"Landry, a second-round pick by Tennessee, flashed with 4.5 sacks over 15 games (three starts) as a rookie and earned a much bigger role heading into next season," Roling said. "He seems like a natural fit in a Baltimore front thanks to his ability to rush from all over the field, fitting a multiple look, and could produce in those spots freed up by players who left on the open market."

3. We knew who the Ravens would be facing in the preseason and when, but now we know what time. The Ravens' preseason matchups with the Jaguars, Packers, Eagles and Redskins will all take place at 7:30 p.m. ET. 


Looking Ahead:

April 25-27: 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tn.

May 3-6 or May 10-13: Potential three-day rookie mini camp

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get long-term deal done with designated franchise tag player

The 2019 NFL schedule is set!  See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: 

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: 20 prospects linked to Baltimore at No. 22

Baltimore Ravens Roundup: 20 prospects linked to Baltimore at No. 22

We've made in to NFL draft week. Here's the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. The 2019 NFL Draft is Thursday night in Nashville, Tn. While the chances of pundits predicting each team's first-round pick accurately is about the same as picking the Powerball numbers, we can't seem to stop ourselves from looking at them. Here's a look at 20 prospects mocked to the Ravens at No. 22, courtesy of the Ravens' website.  


2. One of the many exciting parts of the NFL draft is waiting to hear which organizations trade forward or backwards to acquire a pick. Just last year, the Ravens traded back from their No. 16 pick several times to select Hayden Hurst at No. 25, before trading back into the first-round to pick Lamar Jackson at No. 32. But which trade in Ravens history was the most impactful? ESPN's Jamison Hensley selected the Ravens' trade for running back Jamal Lewis.


"In 1999, the Ravens traded their second-round pick (No. 43) for Atlanta's first-round pick in 2000, which they used to land running back Jamal Lewis," Hensley wrote. "The Falcons selected tight end Reggie Kelly, and the Ravens got what turned into the No. 5 overall pick in the 2000 draft. Baltimore drafted Lewis, who carried the offense during the team's 2000 Super Bowl championship season and recorded the NFL's fifth 2,000-yard season in 2003."


3. As Marlon Humphrey enters his third year in the league, the cornerback will not only be expected to take on a leadership role within the Ravens' new look defense, but top his impressive sophomore season. In 2018, Humphrey contested 35% of targets thrown into his coverage marking the second-best rate in all the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. 


Looking Ahead:

April 25-27: 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tn.

May 3-6 or May 10-13: Potential three-day rookie mini camp

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get long-term deal done with designated franchise tag player

The 2019 NFL schedule is set!  See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: