Everyone knows the starters, Baltimore's Joe Flacco and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick. And they know about Alex Smith, who started for the 49ers until he was sidelined with a concussion in November and Kaepernick stepped in.
Taylor? His resume is slim: Two years, no starts and 30 passes -- 25 of them in the Ravens' meaningless regular-season finale against Cincinnati last month. That's because Flacco has started every game during the past five seasons and never has missed a down because of injury or ineffectiveness.
Still, Taylor knows he's only one play away from getting into the Super Bowl, and for that reason he's practicing hard this week as Sunday's championship game draws near.
"There are so many situations throughout the league where the next guy is called in, so you can't look at how many straight games Joe has played without being injured," Taylor said. "You never know what can happen at any second of the game. I have to be ready to take over if that happens."
The 49ers are preparing for that situation, too. While Flacco is a traditional pocket passer, Taylor is just as likely to scoot downfield as throw the ball. He ran for 65 yards in that game against the Bengals, and at Virginia Tech he set a school record for rushing yards by a quarterback (2,196).
"Actually, we're working on (stopping) the pistol and option in case he gets in and in case they have him in certain packages," San Francisco defensive tackle Justin Smith said. "We worked on what we do and how to stop him. I think we'll be prepared for him if he gets in."
Taylor smiled when told that San Francisco was taking his skill set into account.
"It definitely adds a little extra to the game," he said. "For them to be prepared shows me it's definitely something they have in the back of their minds. I played against (San Francisco) coach (Jim) Harbaugh my last game at Virginia Tech, so he knows what I'm capable of doing. My job this week is to prepare the defense and also to prepare myself so if I have to go into the game, I'm ready."
"I don't know which situation is better or worse," Alex Smith said. "We're just at different points in a career. What's this, his second year? He's been on a good team, obviously. He's there for a reason. Your job as a backup is to be ready to go. That's no different for him or I. That's our job."
It is a role Taylor takes seriously. He isn't in the Big Easy this week to take a stroll on Bourbon Street or munch on beignets.
"You have to be ready to play," Taylor said. "That's how you have to carry yourself throughout the week as far preparation. You have to be physically prepared and mentally prepared because you never know when the opportunity may come."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press