NEW ORLEANS -- Playing a Baltimore Ravens team that has the look of destiny is enough to concern the 49ers. But facing a quarterback in the midst of one of the best postseasons ever can't be overlooked.

The Ravens worked hard to get Joe Flacco signed to an contract extension before this season. Ultimately, both sides agreed to revisit the issue after Sunday's Super Bowl.

Such an issue might have fractured most teams, with players, management and fans fixating on whether one of the team's key players is playing out the string.

Not so with the Ravens and Flacco, according to coach John Harbaugh and Flacco.

"It really hasn't been a challenge," Harbaugh said Thursday. "It's been amazingly non-challenging. That's a credit to Joe. Joe doesn't worry about this stuff. It's not something that matters to him. He's not a guy that gets all wrapped up in that."

In light of how well Flacco has played this season, particularly in the playoffs, the figures the two sides exchanged before the season likely pale in comparison to what the quarterback asks for now.

Flacco has not been intercepted in his 93 postseason passes against Indianapolis, Denver and New England. He also has eight touchdown passes.

"It's real simple: We didn't agree on numbers, and I didn't really care to discuss it any further once it got to that point," Flacco said. "It's a good problem to have and to be talking about."


Advertisement

Flacco is wrapping up his fifth season as the Ravens' starting quarterback. He has guided the Ravens to the playoffs in all five seasons.

Now it's time for the team to decide whether Flacco is an elite quarterback, or at least if he deserves to be paid like one. And for the 49ers to guard against a quarterback with added motivation to succeed.

  • Media access to the players from both teams ended Thursday. The final media access to the teams comes Friday, when Harbaugh and his younger brother Jim, the coach of the 49ers, conduct a joint news conference.

    It's a safe bet that the brothers will have something cooked up for the masses, but John Harbaugh isn't tipping his hand. Well, he did offer one potential surprise.

    "As far as the joint press conference tomorrow, we thought that we would switch uniforms," he said. "I would come dressed as Jim, Jim would come dressed as me and see if (people) could figure it out."

  • The Ravens moved in on the 49ers turf Thursday, basically telling them to share the wealth. Or at least the practice field.

    The Ravens practiced on the baseball field at Tulane University on Wednesday because a new football field is under construction, while the 49ers worked out at the Saints' year-round facility. Practicing at Tulane also meant dealing with 24 mph winds.

    "The field at Tulane University was a little hard. The wind was OK, but we would rather be inside for the timing of our passing game," John Harbaugh told ESPN.

    Jim Harbaugh said earlier this week that he was amenable to altering his team's practice schedule to accommodate the Ravens.

    "This wouldn't have worked out if the coaches didn't know each other," John Harbaugh said.

  • Count Flacco as one of Colin Kaepernick's growing legion of admirers.

    "He's been impressive," Flacco said of the 49ers quarterback. "He's a good athlete. When they drop back to throw the ball, he's been on the money."

    Flacco said he is certain that Kaepernick isn't just catching lightning in a bottle but that he will be a successful quarterback for a long time.

    The thing Flacco wonders about is how the 49ers offense changes over the years, from a run-based attack to one that takes advantage of Kaepernick's passing ability.

    "It's going to be interesting to see in the years to come how well those guys transition from being 50-50 in that type of run-pass game to a little bit more pass offense ... so that they don't get beat up quite as much," Flacco said.

  • Ravens running back Ray Rice is doing his best to keep things in perspective in the long run-up to the Super Bowl. That's easier said than done.

    He said entertaining family and friends, dealing with the media crush and getting caught up in the hype are constant distractions. At some point, it's time to lock in on the task at hand.

    "You lose the Super Bowl, and you're in second place. You're a loser," Rice said. "You get roped off, and the other team is out there celebrating. You get totally forgotten about.

    "You'll just be known as the people who lost in the Super Bowl. That feeling is not the best of feelings because a lot of times you get caught up in the surroundings and a lot of people forget that you've still got to play a game on Sunday."