No one has called Richard Sherman modest or classy, but it doesn’t really matter. The cornerback came up with the big play that gave the Seattle Seahawks the seal of victory, while the San Francisco 49ers and Colin Kaepernick end another season deep in the playoffs with a what if pass that didn’t really make it.
The 49ers had everything going for them early on, but the moment their games become something that their quarterback needs to win without the help of a running game or his defense, they’re not that great of a team all of a sudden. Colin Kaepernick fumbled the ball twice in the game, with one of them becoming a turnover and the other luckily turning into a positive play that led to a touchdown on the next one. He threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter. While the arrogance on the Seattle side was merited considering the end result, Kaepernick in a bad passing performance (but a great one as a runner) failed to deliver and back up his antics from last week against the Panthers.
The Seahawks came away with the 23-17 win as Kaepernick, with 2 seconds left in the game, threw an awful pass to Michael Crabtree in the end zone. He later said something that shows how far he has to go as a quarterback; he made the decision before the snap to throw it in that direction. Richard Sherman tipped the ball, Malcolm Smith caught it, and the game was over. Jim Harbaugh, never the classy loser, decided to take his remaining timeouts on the Seahawks kneeling the ball with time running out.
Harbaugh should have used one of those timeouts before his team’s last play. Kaepernick isn’t the most focused and cool of quarterbacks in the clutch, and probably a bit more order and directions before that final play would have helped. He didn’t just disappoint when compared to Russell Wilson (who also fumbled twice) but had a solid, mistake-free passing performance (215 yards, 16-of-25, one passing touchdown), but also compared to the high expectations he himself creates with his behavior.
The 49ers had to rely completely on Kaepernick as their defense eventually stopped slowing down Wilson or Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks running back finished with 109 yards on 22 carries, including a 40-yard touchdown that tied the game at 10 all in the third quarter. The Niners had no running game except for Kaepernick (130 yards on 11 carries), but this team is built to win on defense, rushing the passer (4 sacks, 10 QB hits) and running the ball. Kaepernick is a great bonus, but when he’s out there on his own trying to win the game alone, it’s destined to fail against a quality team like the Seahawks.
This was a vicious game, with both teams trying not just to tackle and stop opposing players but actively injure one another. The most meaningful injury was actually unintentional, as Navorro Bowman got his leg caught beneath a player and tore his ACL. Someone referred to it as villains vs villains, each having his own reasoning for the definitions. Each Super Bowl needs a story line, and the Seahawks carry the flag of being the “bad” team going into the game, something they’ve earned through their excellence throughout this season.