• 49ers Missed Opportunities May Have Cost Them the Super Bowl

    After watching the game tape, the 49ers have to be feeling a little ill. With only a few plays going their way, this easily could have been a comfortable victory for them instead of the Ravens. Colin Kaepernick was brilliant in the second half and made many terrific plays in the first half, but believe me, there are a few that will live in his mind forever. I know the feeling after losing two Super Bowls and fumbling once.

    1) The goal line overthrow to Crabtree: Colin Kaepernick made a beautiful move out of the pocket and forced Ed Reed to attack from the secondary to keep him from running for a touchdown. On that side of the field their were two defenders, including Reed, and two Ravens receivers, Crabtree and Moss. Both receivers were open and somehow the ball found the ground between them. The 49ers could be in that exact situation another hundred times and they would probably score on every one of them. It was a four point failure.

    2) Kaepernick's failure to throw for the first down to Crabtree on 3rd and 2 with :21 seconds to go in the half. The play was designed to go to Crabtree in the flat. Crabtree was wide open in the flat and Kaepernick didn't throw it. I'm sure the coaches in the press box were throwing papers in the air. There is absolutely no reason why that ball wouldn't have been thrown that I can think of. The 49ers would have had at least a first down and another shot at a touchdown. Instead they settled for 3. Another potential four point loss.

    3) Missed Read on LeMichael James' Fumble: No one can blame Kaepernick for James' fumble, but if Kaepernick had that play to read over again, he would have kept it up the middle. There is no way he would have run for fewer than 10 yards on the play and may have scored. The Ravens did a good job hitting Kaepernick after all of those read options, and it may have impacted his decision on that play.

    4) The interception appeared to be a poor read of the coverage caused by the corner falling under Moss's crossing route. I think Kaepernick saw the corner late and tried to change the throw to avoid the corner. It just got away from him and sailed into Ed Reed's arms.

    5) Kaepernick did catch a break after the interception when he hesitated on a throw to the left to Moss. He wanted to see Moss open instead of anticipating the throw and it was throw late allowing Cary Williams to almost intercept it inside the 49ers' 20. Disaster averted.

    Despite these few mistakes, Colin Kaepernick proved in the second half that he is an NFL star. His anticipation will continue to improve. I really believe this experience will propel him to a new level next year. What he accomplished in 10 games this year is pretty amazing, and I don't think the 49ers would trade him for more than one or two QBs in the league. Of course, the Ravens aren't interested in trading their guy either. You know, the guy with the new car.

    Comments 11 Comments
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      The errors early put them behind the 8-ball so to speak. They had the Ravens held to 3, but jumped, leading to 7 instead.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Good column, Cris. I agree, mistakes cost the 49ers. Play a clean game and they win.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Dont forget the dumb procedure penalties.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      On the pass to Crabtree along the sidleine in the first half near the goal line where he might not have even been in bounds had he caught it, I noticed that Vernon Davis was wide open down the TE seam or skinny post, couldn't tell for sure what the route was, but Davis was wide open.

      Also, hindsight is 20/20, but the end of the game sequence was really bad. The Ravens had to know the stats about Crabtree since Kaepernick took over and the Niners, following suit, called three plays to Crabtree. I get the throw to your best receiver thing, but another run up the guy when the team is averaging over 6 a carry seemed like it should have been tried.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      1) Are we certain that pass was to Crabtree and not Moss? That ball hits Moss in the numbers if Crabtree doesn't try to catch it. Both receivers ended up a little too close to each other, so I'm wondering if Moss was where he was supposed to be, but Crabtree followed Kaepernick as he moved out of the pocket, which ultimately led to Crabtree sitting underneath Moss, causing the incompletion.

      3) Great analysis. The Ravens were doing such a great job of shutting down the run at that point that Kaepernick may have had it in his head pre snap that their only chance was to bump that run to the outside. Haloti Ngata was dominating the game, and I think that played into his decision to hand it off instead of keeping it and running to the inside. Turns out that on that particular play, the yards would have there for the taking.

      4) I've seen some (not you) blame Moss for this play, and I couldn't disagree more. I'll trust your judgment that it may have been a poor read on Kaepernick's part, but when watching it live, it just felt like Kaepernick was trying to do too much, and the ball got away from him.

      -I came away very impressed with Kaepernick's ability to rebound from his self-inflicted wounds. That game could have easily snowballed, but he responded brilliantly in the 2nd half, to the point to where, the way the game played out, I felt like the 1st half TOs ultimately had little impact on the outcome of the game. Resiliency is a great sign from such an inexperienced QB.

      -I thought the biggest difference in the first half was Baltimore's experience, and that's what ultimately led to their victory.

      -If Haloti Ngata doesn't go down, I think Baltimore wins by 2 scores. His absence completely opened the running game, and was the biggest single determining factor in allowing Frank Gore to have a huge 2nd half.

      -I thought the Ray Rice fumble was more devastating than either of the SF turnovers, but the one play that is getting completely overlooked is the shanked punt by Sam Koch. SF was clearly gaining momentum following the TD to Crabtree, and on their next defensive series, stopped Baltimore to force them to punt deep in their own territory. The punt ended up going 43 yards, but only after about a 10 yard bounce that perfectly set up Ginn's big return to the Baltimore 20. 2 plays later, the 49ers have suddenly pulled to within one score.

      -I thought your analysis on INFL on the final 49er offensive play to Crabtree was spot on. The refs were allowing some physicality from the CBs all game. When Crabtree started that play by passively jogging right into the chest of Cary Williams, he took away any chance of drawing a call. Had he aggressively tried to move to Williams' outside shoulder, and attack the ball, if Williams had grabbed, they'd have made the call. The desperation-type heave by Kaepernick to avoid the rush didn't help either, but Crabtree did himself no favors.
    1. NickMykita's Avatar
      I was impressed by the way the 49ers came roaring back in the second half. Lesser teams might have just rolled over, but they fought to the end. It hurts double because they did have a number of chances to pull out what could have been the greatest comeback victory since the Bills and Oilers.
    1. xmenehune's Avatar
      I'll always think what a curious way to end the game, before the safety, where SF has the ball and calls three pass plays in-a-row, when they are a much better running team.

      They could've sent out their jumbo package and get all the yardage they needed or fake one way to their power side, seal the edge on the back side and take a chance w/QB running or give RB James a chance to make up for fumble and again get the edge.

      I really think the play calling toward the end of the game after the time out was over thought and too cute with the passing in tight quarters. Do what you do best!
    1. msclemons's Avatar
      I'm still attempting to perform the Heimlich maneuver on Copernicus. He's choking horribly.

      Is the game over yet?
    1. ScottDCP's Avatar
      The one point I would like to make on the last throw by Kapernick is that e threw a darn catchable ball a second or more before he wanted to. He altered the normal fight path and speed of the throw to allow for the hurry, and if Crabtree, as has been noted, did anything sggesting he might expect to be thrown to in the corner (duh) he would have ether had a legitimate chance to catch it or been held, either of which would have lead to something good for clem.

      It's on Crabtree. Glad to see him not blame the ref, but it would've been better to see him play it like it was fourth and goal at the end of the Super Bowl, his team down three.
    1. Swami's Avatar
      Early in the 2nd half, with the 49ers down big in a game with a clock (as opposed to baseball), they were taking forever to get snaps off and wasted a time out. This came back to bite them late.

      But, almost as bad, when the Ravens got the ball back with the big lead, they were snapping the ball with 10-15 seconds on the play clock. So few teams milk the clock with big leads or understand when to go hurry-up. The 49ers ended up scoring so quickly they got back in the game, but they still wasted clock, and were helped out by the Ravens not milking it as much as they should have.
    1. Hoser's Avatar
      A great deal has been made about the no call on the pass to Crabtree but in watching the game again the most atrocious non call comes on the 2nd half kickoff return. Bruce Miller was in position to make a play but was absolutely mauled by TWO Ravens. Still...too many mistakes. I still feel that if this were a best of 7 series the Niners win in 5 or 6. Ugh!