It took the San Francisco 49ers more than two quarters to realize they’re playing in the Super Bowl and are getting run over. Colin Kaepernick started making throws and the Pistol offense suddenly made the kind of impact it had all season. Too bad for them, it was just a tad too little, too late, too short and off the mark.
No 49ers quarterback has ever lost a Super Bowl, certainly not going in as the favorite, but for one half, the Ravens played perfect football on both ends of the ball. It was too much for Kaepernick to withstand, as the read option faltered to pieces in his hands, as he was sacked twice and had to scramble more than once, not as part of the game plan.
In the second half it looked different – He started finding Michael Crabtree (5 rec/109 yards/1 TD) and Vernon Davis (6 rec/104 yards). Frank Gore finally started to scorch the field, as that offensive line finally started creating the openings it had all season. Gore finished with 110 yards on 19 carries, scoring one touchdown. Colin Kaepernick ran for 62 yards himself on 7 carries, including a 15 yard touchdown to make it 29-31 in the fourth, the longest rushing touchdown by a quarterback in Super Bowl history.
But when it came to making the final plays, the 49ers messed up. Overthrowing, bad routes, bad running – it’s not about a game plan, it’s mostly about execution. When it came down to making the play that would win them the game, with Colin Kaepernick throwing the ball to Michael Crabtree in the end zone, it was another bad throw from the second year quarterback, who simply had one too many in the game. He completed 26 of his 38 passes for one touchdown and one interception. One more incompletion than Flacco, one more interception that Flacco didn’t have.
And there was Michael Crabtree, who catches the ball so well outside the numbers, but couldn’t catch balls in the end zone – partially his fault, partially his quarterback’s. was targeted on the 49ers’ last three plays (all incompletions). He caught five of the seven passes thrown his way prior to that. Crabtree did not catch any of his three end-zone targets in the game.
There were fingers pointed at referees, but there was no hold. Crabtree initiated the contact, and the man covering had no choice but to put his hands on him. Harbaugh, the younger one, cried wolf, wolf, but it didn’t really help. He forgot to mention the break he got when David Akers missed a field goal only to get a second shot for a bogus roughing the kicker call. Referees didn’t determine the outcome of the game. Lack of execution by the San Francisco 49ers on both end of the field did. When you finish with only 2-9 on third down while allowing the other team to make it more than 50% of the time, you should never be surprised you end up on the losing side.
Kaepernick might be the next big thing in this new generation of multi-talented quarterbacks; maybe he’s just a gimmick that works well in an offense built for his kind of game. When it comes down to it, despite his athletic abilities and throwing abilities, it was those he messed up on that will stick in his mind and everyone else’s until he gets another shot at a Super Bowl ring.