NEW ORLEANS -- Win or lose in Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens plan to jump immediately into offseason planning on Monday. General manager Ozzie Newsome will host a personnel meeting, then give coaches and scouts one day to prepare for a larger powwow Wednesday during which most contract situations and an evolving plan for the 2013 NFL Draft will be produced.
Quarterback Joe Flacco's contract will be a marquee matter at the team's Owings Mills, Md., facility but the future of 34-year-old safety Ed Reed is also a front-burner issue.
Reed said he has great respect for Baltimore as a city and his clear preference is to remain with the Ravens.
"Absolutely I want him back, along with Ray Lewis," said defensive coordinator Dean Pees. "He is an integral part of this defense. When you got guys like that, when you got guys like Ed and Ray it's like coaching coaches. They know so much about the defense already you don't have to explain a lot of things. Like you're not losing a good player, you're losing a good locker room guy and losing a big part of your whole program."
Reed stopped short of shopping a hometown discount to stay in Baltimore. He also dismissed the ever-percolating notion that he might retire. Reed said this will "absolutely not" be his last game. He was less certain that it won't be his last with the Ravens, but envisioned himself finishing his career with the team that gave him his start.
"It makes a big difference. I always said when I came into the league and got drafted that I didn't want to be one of those guys jumping from team to team," Reed said. "If it was up to me, I would be right in Baltimore. If it happens to be somewhere else, I can play football on the moon."
--San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst allowed head coach Jim Harbaugh to manage the decision to switch from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick in November, but he's not surprised by the second-year starter's success. There are doubts about how consistently effective the read-option and Pistol offense can be at the NFL level, but Chryst said there's every reason to believe the 49ers can make it work. Whether other teams can duplicate that model is to be determined. It's very likely, if expected, many will try in a league known for borrowing schemes.
"When teams were coming out with the wildcat look, there was a quarterback that Miami drafted, Pat White from West Virginia," Chryst said. "There are other people who are on rosters, Tyler Thigpen from Coastal Carolina, a quarterback that has that run ability. You have to understand the evaluation in college because teams are moving the ball in college doing it that way. Can it convert into the NFL? I think that will be an interesting thing to follow, especially with Chip Kelly with the Eagles and see where this goes. I don't know if we know right now because we're just at the entry point of this. I don't know where this is going to take us."
As 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman expands the offense to suit Kaepernick and with the introduction of coaches who use a like system, including Kelly, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is beginning to see that the system is more than a fad.
"I think it will have staying power in the league, the Pistol read-option," he said. "The beauty of it is and part of the genius of it is it's such a simple idea. It goes back to Nevada and coach (Chris) Ault out there. You can run your whole offense on it. You aren't limited to an option type attack out of it. Not just the entire run game but the entire pass game as well. The backs get position to protect. You can run all your drop-back stuff, you can run power run game inside and outside, and you can run read option, triple option. So it's just a very versatile type offense and it forces you to defend a lot of different elements of the offensive attack."
The offensive philosophy might be entrenched. But what of the quarterbacks? Making the prize player on your roster the focal point of the running offense invites obvious concerns and exposes him to more frequent risks - and regular contact - that cast doubt on longevity at a position otherwise safeguarded by coaches, executives and even game officials.
"You invest all of this money in a quarterback and you put him out there on an island where when they start running, they're no longer protected," said Ravens safety Bernard Pollard. "In the day and age that we're playing in, they're protected if they're going to throw. But if they are going to do all of this handing off and wanting to run, then they're not protected. You respect the talent that these guys (quarterbacks who run the read-option) have, but at the same time, they're not built to take the hits. You want to believe that their careers will last playing the read-option, but it's not a reality."
--The statistics say tight end Vernon Davis has taken a lesser role in the 49ers' offense, becoming more of a blocker than a downfield threat. To Davis, it's part of his maturation and growth into a complete tight end. He said he looks up to Tony Gonzalez as the standard-bearer at the position, doing his job regardless of circumstances and not complaining about his role.
Davis has warmed to Kaepernick - initially he resisted the switch and publicly backed Alex Smith - even if his bruised fingers have not. He echoed wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who said receivers try to get to the back of the line in position drills when they see Kaepernick stepping up to take his turn in the passing rotation.
"Obviously, everyone knows that Colin Kaepernick has a strong arm. He'll take your fingers off if you don't watch it," Davis said.
"I talk to (Kaepernick) about a little less mustard all the time," he added. (He throws with) a lot of velocity on the ball. Colin is always in the weight room. If you want to find Colin, go to the weight room. Sometimes I have to tell him to slow down, 'This is my shop buddy.' He has a very strong arm. I'm very excited about Colin's future."
--Pollard wasn't offended by defensive end Haloti Ngata identifying him as the Ravens' most high-maintenance player.
"I'm not surprised. My teammates tend to get upset with me because I carry my hand sanitizer, I carry my disinfectant wipes, my baby wipes. When you sneeze, I tell you to cover your mouth, and when you cough, I tell you to cover your mouth. If you pick your nose, I tell you not to touch me," Pollard said. "They don't like that. But that's how I came up. My mom would yell at us if we drank out of someone else's glass.
"It's just one of those things where that's how I grew up. That's how my Mom raised and groomed us. But I'm starting to rub off on some of the guys. Now you see some of them also with hand sanitizer in their pockets and everything else. ... But some guys are disgusting -- they ought to be ashamed on themselves. The nastiest dudes on the team are Jah Reid, Arthur Jones and Terrell Suggs. I'm just teasing on those guys."