<
>

Ravens secondary helps 49ers turn out lights on Baltimore's season

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- It's only appropriate that, 32 months since the Super Bowl, it was the San Francisco 49ers who turned out the lights on the Baltimore Ravens' season.

The Ravens secondary once again proved to be Baltimore's downfall in a 25-20 loss, allowing Colin Kaepernick to become the fourth quarterback in the last five games to put up a season high in passing yards.

The last-place Ravens (1-5) have made the likes of Derek Carr and Josh McCown look like Pro Bowl quarterbacks. This time, Baltimore made life too easy for Kaepernick, who was struggling so much that Niners fans called for him to be benched a couple of weeks ago.

Kaepernick threw for a season-high 340 yards, including a career-best 225 yards in the first half. He averaged 21.2 yards per completion as the Ravens couldn't consistently get pressure on him and failed to stick with the 49ers' receivers.

"I’m tired of saying the same thing but we’ve got to come through," cornerback Jimmy Smith said of the secondary. "It’s unacceptable what we’re doing."

Big plays are the Ravens' biggest problem. On throws of 20 yards or more in the air, the Ravens allowed Kaepernick to connect 4 of 6 passes for 200 yards.

Those four long passes accounted for 59 percent of Kaepernick's passing production. He completed as many as those 20-plus yard throws against the Ravens as he did in the first five games, which says a lot of about the current state of Baltimore's secondary.

"There's no excuse for us as a secondary," Smith said. "Every single play, we have to be perfect to win these games. That’s apparent."

It doesn't matter who is in the secondary for the Ravens. Former 49ers cornerback Shareece Wright, who was signed this week, allowed two touchdowns. He got burned on a 76-yarder to Torrey Smith and fell down on a 21-yarder to Quinton Patten.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was fuming over Wright giving up the big play to Smith, who used a double move to get open.

"You put your eyes where they're supposed to be in man coverage," Harbaugh said. "It's as simple as that, you know? You've got to do that or you can't play. You got to play with discipline in the back end."

In the Ravens' last four losses, opposing quarterbacks have averaged 382 yards passing, throwing 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.

"Way too many mistakes," Harbaugh said. "We gave them too many points."

What it means: The Ravens' season is officially over. At 1-5, the Ravens are five games back of the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals and trail the Pittsburgh Steelers by three games for the final wild-card spot.

What were they thinking? Joe Flacco's second interception. It was perhaps the worst pass of his eight-year NFL career. On the opening drive of the second half, Flacco threw a 50-yard pass up for grabs and was intercepted by Kenneth Acker. There was no Ravens player even in the area of the pass.

One reason to be optimistic: Can anyone come up with something here? The Ravens are one of five teams with one win this season. How long is it to the draft?

One reason to panic: There's not enough space to address everything. It's a long list, from the problems in the secondary to Flacco's decision-making to Justin Tucker's misses this season.

Fantasy watch: Wide receiver Steve Smith. He could have put up some major points if he held on to two passes in the end zone. Still, Smith went over 100 yards receiving and scored on a 34-yard touchdown even though he was playing with four microfractures in his back.

Ouch: FS Kendrick Lewis hurt his knee in the middle of the third quarter and didn't return. Five of the Ravens' seven inactive players were out due to injuries: CB Lardarius Webb (thigh), DE Chris Canty (calf), DB Terrence Brooks (thumb), WRs Breshad Perriman (knee) and Darren Waller (concussion).

Rare miss: Justin Tucker hit the right upright in the fourth quarter, which was just his fourth miss on the road in his career. Before that miss, he was 60 of 63 on the road (95.2 percent).

What's next: The Ravens play at the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 26 on Monday Night Football. It ends a challenging opening stretch in which Baltimore opened the season with five of its first seven games on the road. The Ravens have won their last three Monday night games.