SANTA CLARA--Boil out the flimsiest, fuzziest story lines and this Super Bowl is supremely easy to summarize in less than 25 words.
The 49ers are a little better at the best things the Ravens do and a lot better at the things the Ravens do worst.
There you have it. Simple, crisp, lean, complete... and almost nothing like any of the food I plan to consume in the French Quarter next week.
OK, a little more: The 49ers have the more dynamic quarterback, the more varied offense and the stronger, younger defense, which are all the tangible pieces that mark a team as an eventual Super Bowl champion.
They will win this game, and let's just go ahead and predict the score: 49ers 27, Baltimore 17.
Naturally, a million other angles should and will be explored and debate in the next few days and then amid the New Orleans media swarm next week.
Many of the strangest angles will probably be explored by me, I admit.
And there's no doubt that weird and significant things could happen to lift or shake either team from now until kick-off on Feb. 3 at the Superdome.
But the baseline of this match-up is set: The 49ers are the better team and can beat Baltimore in several different ways.
And in the biggest games, the baseline almost always holds.
The most important factors for Super Bowl XLVII...
The big difference, of course, is that Kaepernick threatens defenses with both his arm and his legs, while Flacco strictly is a drop-back thrower.
The threat of Flacco's down-field throwing can certainly open up running lanes for Ray Rice, no doubt. But Kaepernick pushes defenses to cover his runs, cover his accurate passing and make sure they pay attention to Frank Gore.
And all of that is not possible most days.
Plus, in a counter-intuitive way, Kaepernick's relative inexperience is probably more dangerous for Baltimore right now than it is for the 49ers.
Kaepernick had his two greatest games (out of nine NFL starts) when he has had a long lay-off before the game: His stunning debut against Chicago, and then his 181 yards of running against Green Bay in the divisional round.
It makes sense that a young premium QB talent would have his largest growth spurts when he has time to soak in the game plan and then attack the opponent without hesitation.
And for Super Bowl XLVII, Kaepernick has two weeks to prepare for Baltimore and Baltimore alone.
All those guys were undefeated in multiple Super Bowl trips--and all won their first one when they were 27 or younger.
Kaepernick is 25; Flacco is 28.
The 49ers also were probably the best overall defense in the league during the regular season (ranked 3rd in yards, 2nd in points).
And, despite giving up a lot of yards, the 49ers D buckled down when they had to in the playoffs.
If there's a defense capable of reaching the Super heights of the 1985 Bears, the 1985 Giants or, yes, the 2000 Ravens, it's the 49ers.
Speaking of the 2000 Ravens... the 2012 Baltimore defense (ranked 17th in yards, 12th in points) was in no way comparable to its famous ancestor during the regular season.
The Ravens were weakened when Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs missed long stretches, had severe problems against many offenses, and gave up 344 points in the regular season.
That's more than double the 165 points the legendary 2000 Ravens gave up in the regular season, on their way a Super Bowl title.
Lewis and Suggs have returned, and the Ravens defense has looked far better in the playoffs, but there are still holes the 49ers can attack.
Easiest point: The 49ers had to play that game after flying across the country on short rest, a set-up for defeat.
Second-easiest point: Alex Smith was the 49ers QB and was decimated by the Baltimore pass rush; the 49ers' line is much better now and Kaepernick is very difficult to sack more than once or twice a game.
Broadest point: Baltimore isn't the greatest match-up for the Jim Harbaugh era 49ers, because the 49ers sometimes struggle against the more physical teams.
But the 49ers are equally or more challenging to John Harbaugh's Ravens, for the same reasons. The Ravens are built to beat the finesse Patriots, and just did.
The 49ers have had issues with Seattle and St. Louis, but with Kaepernick rolling, that offensive line crunching and the defense flying at the ball, they're built to beat everybody.
And to win Super Bowls, especially this one, 27-17.