For the better part of three months, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has driven opposing defensive coordinators crazy and left onlookers shaking their heads. He’s dominated NFL highlight reels, earned well-deserved MVP buzz and helped alter the way the league views the quarterback position.
And San Francisco’s task Sunday, in a relentless drizzle at M&T Bank Stadium, was to figure out a way to stop him.
Though San Francisco had some success in that department, it was ultimately not enough. Jackson once again eclipsed 100 rushing yards and converted a key third down in the final minutes that helped set up Justin Tucker’s game-winning 49-yard field goal, sealing a 20-17 win for the Ravens.
The win propelled Baltimore to 10-2 and their eighth consecutive victory, and gave the 49ers (10-2) just their second loss of the season.
All week, this game was teased as a potential Super Bowl preview, despite the rainy forecast and the game’s 1 p.m. television time slot, which is usually reserved for run-of-the-mill league action. But the question that hovered over it had less to do with weather or timing and more to do with Jackson, the electrifying second-year quarterback out of Louisville.
Jackson had faced tough defenses before, breezing past contenders that included Seattle, New England and Houston, among others. But the 49ers boast arguably the best defense in the league, a unit that had all but silenced Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in prime time a week earlier. Would they be able to come up with a solution for Jackson?
San Francisco tried to prepare for Jackson’s speed and unpredictability by employing wide receiver Richie James as their scout team quarterback in practices this week. James, for what it’s worth, ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at his combine.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Tom Schad