HARRIS: Ravens-49ers Super Bowl prediction can go either way

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ANALYSIS/OPINION

Joe Flacco’s full name is Joseph Vincent Flacco. My middle name is Joseph. There’s the connection I’ve been looking for all week.

The Ravens will win the Super Bowl.

Wait.

I attended the Western Athletic Conference’s football media day in Salt Lake City in 2010. Guest of honor at my table was Nevada’s dynamic quarterback Colin Kaepernick. I’m sure he remembers it just as fondly as I do. There’s the connection I’ve been looking for all week.

The 49ers will win the Super Bowl.

Welcome to the prognostication portion of my brain, which has been malfunctioning for the overwhelming majority of its 56 years. Other than a few Kentucky Derbies and some success in various NCAA tournament office pools, my batting average in the world of predictions would make Davey Johnson recoil. The safest way to make any money on my picks, if you’re into that sort of thing, is to go all-in the other way.

But I’ve been told a columnist in a city with an NFL team has to make a Super Bowl prediction (and here I thought no one had even noticed). So I’ll oblige and make a prediction. And earn a headache in the process.

I love crab cakes. I love sourdough bread. So the food angle is a wash.

I enjoy visiting Baltimore. I’d surrender body parts to live in San Francisco. Edge to the 49ers.

Flacco is easier to spell than Kaepernick. Edge to the Ravens.

The coaches are brothers (did you know that?), so that’s a wash. The family ties angle is a tie.

When the playoffs started, I was convinced beyond all doubt we’d be waiting to watch Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos take on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. No question that was going to be the matchup. Two of the game’s top quarterbacks going at it.

Did anyone pick a 49ers-Ravens matchup?

Truth is, this is an outstanding matchup. Probably a better matchup than the Broncos-Packers would have been. It’s good to get some new faces in the spotlight. And the quarterback clash is likely going to be more fun to watch than Manning-Rodgers.

Kaepernick didn’t have as much buzz going into the season as all the other new kids. He’s not a rookie like RG3, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. He also didn’t begin the season as the team’s starter. But he’s the last of the new wave standing and a good crystal ball might tell you he’s going to look just as good as the three rookies when his playing days are over.

Flacco? No one will claim he was the Most Valuable Player during the regular season. He’s pretty much been that during the playoffs, with eight touchdown passes, no interceptions and a 114.7 rating through three postseason games. If you didn’t think of Flacco as one of the game’s better quarterbacks before, maybe it is time to start thinking that way now.

It’s a good time to be Joseph Vincent Flacco. It’s a good time to be his accountant as well. Regardless of what happens Sunday, Flacco’s next contract is going to puff up his net worth quite a bit.

The pick here is he’ll have another bargaining chip on his side (not that he needs one): a Super Bowl championship.

Let’s not discount how well the 49ers have played in their two games. They put up 45 points on the Packers and staged a big rally to topple the Falcons. Kaepernick has gone up against Rodgers and the Falcons’ Matt Ryan and not looked in any way inferior.

There’s a buzz about the Ravens this postseason. They kept giving up long returns against the Broncos and still found a way to win in overtime. They went into New England and dominated the Patriots. Flacco has been playing out of his mind. Take away those return touchdowns in Denver and the Ravens have been difficult to score against, too.

Given my ugly history, I’m probably dooming them to a lopsided defeat. So write this down before I change my mind: Ravens 31, 49ers 24.

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