Can 49ers handle double dose of Lewis?

The 49ers stand a decent chance in Baltimore on Sunday if they can just take care of the Lewis boys. That's All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis and running back Jamal Lewis, the NFL's leading rusher. And taking care of those two is easier said than done.

But that is what the Niners must do if they are to get back on track and capture their first road victory of the season. Because Lewis and Lewis are the key players that make the Ravens click on both sides of the ball.

Jamal Lewis leads the league with 1,364 yards rushing and spearheads a Baltimore offense that ranks last in the NFL in passing but is second in running the ball. Ray Lewis is Baltimore's runaway leader in tackles with a 153 and is second on the team with three interceptions.

Considering the way Green Bay ran the ball against San Francisco last week with Ahman Green - the NFL's No. 2 rusher behind Baltimore's guy - the Niners must concentrate first on stopping Jamal Lewis.

"If we don't stop the run against these guys, we have problems," Niners coach Dennis Erickson said. "Lewis is probably the best back in the NFL right now, playing the best. What he can do, if you don't cover your gaps, he's so fast, so explosive. We really have to be in position and we have to get a bunch of guys to the football."

Lewis is on pace for a 2,000-yard season and, considering the Baltimore offense revolves around him, he'll be coming right at the 49ers.

"With my running style, I say run at anybody," Lewis said. "I like to get downfield and I like to run before the tackles. I think that is where I make most of my magic happen. With our style of play, we like to wear down defenses through the game and really make it happen in the third and fourth quarter.

"(The 49ers) play fast football. With any team, you go out and play physical. If you do your job and put a hat to a hat, you can make things happen. They play sound football, and I'm sure they are going to bring their 'A' game when they come to Baltimore."

But the 49ers won't be bringing their 'A' offensive line.

Injuries to guards Ron Stone and Dwayne Ledford had the Niners moving players around in practice this week and considering several different combinations to start along the offensive line against Baltimore's fifth-rated defense.

Ledford is out for the season with an ankle injury and Stone won't play against the Ravens due to a hamstring injury. The Niners have tried backup center Brock Gutierrez in Stone's right guard position this week in practice. If regular left guard Eric Heitmann is ready to return after missing the past two games with an ankle sprain, he'll start and Kyle Kosier will move to right guard. The Niners also are considering moving starting left tackle Derrick Deese to left guard and starting rookie Kwame Harris in his place at tackle.

"We've got Plan A, Plan B and Plan C right now," offensive line Pat Morris said.

Erickson said the Niners won't decide until Sunday which will be their plan for opening kickoff.

In each of those plans, the Niners have provisions for stopping Ray Lewis, the intense leader of Baltimore's rugged defense. The Ravens are a respectable 10th in the league in stopping the run, but that is their lowest ranking in 11 defensive categories. So the Niners and their fifth-rated rushing attack must try to get something established on the ground for San Francisco to get its offense moving after its worst performance of the season last week.

But Ray Lewis won't make that easy. He's the one player on the Baltimore defense who makes himself more visible with his play than the rest of his teammates.

"I really believe that he does," Niners quarterback Jeff Garcia said. "He, in so many ways, is like a young Junior Seau, when Junior was roaming the field and being allowed to move and make things happen and having that freedom to play the game, and Ray Lewis definitely has the freedom to play that game. I think in so many ways they allow him to make his own decisions, not so much as to go against what the defensive philosophy is, but they free him up to be that smart leader on the defensive side."

Said Jamal Lewis of his defensive counterpart who shares the same surname but is no relation, "He fights through blocks and the lineman. He is always around the ball. He is a key to our defense. He slides around and makes plays. I can sit here all day and watch amazing plays that he makes. He's a phenomenal player and that is what drives me when I get out on the football field."

Obviously, the younger Lewis does some driving of his own.

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