NEW ORLEANS — Every team talks about the importance of the play from the offensive and defensive lines. Baltimore Ravens veteran center Matt Birk said the 49ers and Ravens personify that philosophy.
"Whoever wins the battle of the trenches will go a long way toward determining who wins this game," Birk said Tuesday of the upcoming Super Bowl.
Being physical and stout on both sides of the lines are trademarks of Ravens coach John Harbaugh and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
It's something they learned from watching Michigan play while growing up. Now they are putting that knowledge to good use in building Super Bowl-caliber teams.
Birk got his first taste of just how good the 49ers defensive line is when the Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6 in 2011.
"Both teams are physical up front," Birk said. "Their defensive line is as good as I've seen. I said that last (in 2011) after we played them on Thanksgiving. It starts with their physicality."
The 49ers finished with the fourth-ranked defense against the run and pass. Also, they were fourth in rushing offense.
The Ravens allowed the seventh-fewest yards per carry (4.0-yard average) during the regular season. In three playoff victories, they held their opponents to an average of 3.4 yards per carry.