In each of the last three seasons the quarterback who has won the Super Bowl has been named game MVP. Signal callers have been awarded MVP honors five times in the last six seasons and on 25 different occasions. So will it be Joe Flacco, Colin Kaepernick, or a surprise hero?
After an average regular season, Flacco has been brilliant in the playoffs. During this postseason he leads all quarterbacks in touchdowns, yardage, and QB Rating. He has done so without throwing an interception. He faces a 49ers defense that was among the NFL's best during the regular season but has been only fair in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers completed 26 of 39 throws for 257 yards and two scores in the Divisional Playoff. Matt Ryan tallied 396 yards in the air with three scores during the NFC Title game. However, San Francisco's defense, which struggled early in both playoff games, got stops consistently when they needed them in the second half. Opponents have scored 10 second half points against the Niners in the playoffs with seven of them coming on a Green Bay garbage time score.
If Flacco goes down, former Virginia Tech Hokie Tyrod Taylor will get the ball. Taylor completed two passes against the Bengals in week one, threw an incompletion against Oakland in November, and played a lot during week 17 against Cincinnati. In his only extended playing time of the season the 23-year-old completed 15 of 25 pass attempts for 149 yards. His longest hookup went for 23 yards. He threw one interception in the game but ran for a touchdown, and put together 65 yards on the ground. Taylor's last touchdown pass came in a 40-12 loss to Jim Harbaugh's Stanford team in the 2011 Orange Bowl.
As for the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick makes his tenth professional start and has proven that he can win in multiple ways. In his first playoff start the University of Nevada product accounted for four scores and nearly 450 yards, rushing for an NFL quarterback record 181 yards against Green Bay. In the NFC Championship game he led the Niners back from a 17-0 deficit in Atlanta directing three touchdown drives of 75 yards or more. He has turned the ball over once in two games while accounting for five scores. Baltimore's defense, which ranked in the middle of league during the regular season, has been solid in the playoffs. Facing Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady, the Ravens have allowed four touchdown passes while picking off five throws. Opposing QB's have completed only 56-percent of their passes against Baltimore this postseason.
Kaepernick's backup is Alex Smith. He led the Niners to the NFC Championship game last season and this year posted a QB Rating of 104.1 before being injured and then replaced. Among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts this year, Smith ranked behind only Rodgers and Manning in QB Rating. That being said, Smith was labeled a bust for five seasons after being selected with the first pick in the draft out of Utah in 2005. Last year he was competent and this year good before Harbaugh flipped him for Kaepernick. Smith has thrown one pass since early November.
It is also worth mentioning that Raven WR Anquan Boldin played some quarterback while at Florida State and has thrown three passes in the NFL. San Francisco WR Randy Moss has thrown two touchdowns and completed four passes though the most recent was in 2004. Moss hit Chris Carter for a 27 yard score in 1999, and D'Wayne Bates from 13 yards out in 2002.
The better passing team will probably win. Who the best passer is remains to be seen.