The San Francisco 49ers will play the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.
This game has many subplots: Ray Lewis' last stand; second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick starting his first Super Bowl game; and brother versus brother.
But the major plot of the game should be how both teams arrived in New Orleans.
A destination that included two major questionable decisions. Each decision put a major stamp on each team. Both decisions paved craters in the team with ripple effects throughout the playoffs.
So the question is: which decision proved the most daring?
The Baltimore Ravens - John Harbaugh
December 9, the Ravens played the Washington Redskins. The Ravens lost to the Redskins in overtime. The Ravens were 9-4. The team was averaging 344.4 yards on offense.
Following the game offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired. Harbaugh replaced Cameron with quarterback coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell became the offensive coordinator on an interim basis.
It was a gusty call because, though Caldwell had been a head coach, he had never been a play caller. With Caldwell as the offensive coordinator, the Ravens ended the season losing two of their last three games.
And then came the playoffs and the decision was rewarded. The Ravens have scored 90 points in three playoff games to earn the berth in the Super Bowl. In the six games that Caldwell has been offensive coordinator, the Ravens have averaged 26.2 points and 406.2 yards of offense a game.
In the playoffs inside the 20-yard line the Ravens have scored eight of 10 times.
Cam Cameron, speaking of the firing, told the New York Times, "It was a brilliant move, everyone on the team took a look in the mirror after that."
The firing was completely Harbaugh's decision. The reflection may prove to be John Harbaugh's face in the Lombardi Trophy.
The San Francisco 49ers - Jim Harbaugh
During the summer it was reported Harbaugh was interested in acquiring the services of Peyton Manning. Harbaugh vehemently denied the reports.
Maybe, he was really happy with the choices on his team.
On November 11 versus the Saint Louis Rams, 49ers' quarterback Alex Smith suffered a concussion. He was replaced by second round draft pick from Nevada-Reno, Colin Kaepernick.
In Week 10 when Smith suffered his concussion his stats were impressive. At the time Smith was the NFL's third most efficient quarterback with a 104.1 passer rating. He had the league's best completion percentage with a 70.2 rate.
In 218 attempts, Smith had 13 touchdown passes with five interceptions. In addition to having the team at a 6-2-1 record, Smith was the quarterback who led the 49ers to the NFC Championship game last year.
Smith's concussion diminished, Harbaugh stayed with Kaepernick. This required the 49ers to revamp their offense. The 49ers famously installed the read option from the pistol formation to account for Kaepernick's speed and arm strength.
Sports analyst were incredulous. Star running back Frank Gore was slightly distraught. And Harbaugh stood his ground.
Kaepernick finished the regular season 5-2. He completed 62.4 percent of his passes. Kaepernick had 10 touchdowns with three interceptions.
In his first playoff win and eighth start, Kaepernick was record-breaking. Against the Green Bay Packers, he threw for two touchdowns. He also rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
In his second playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, the 49ers fell behind 17-0. Kaepernick, Vernon Davis and a believing Gore led the 49ers to a second half comeback.
Now the 49ers are in the Super Bowl. And another Harbaugh is looking like a genius.
Which coach will go into the Super Bowl with the most momentum?
It will be said that Ray Lewis' impending retirement is the impetus for the Ravens' run at the Lombardi Trophy.
The 49ers are basking in the glory of Kaepernick, and that is all Jim Harbaugh.
So it appears the younger may have the bigger.
But for those of you who think size doesn't matter, remember the bigger question is who will leave New Orleans with the biggest hardware?
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