It finally happened. After 10 starts in which it looked like little could phase him, Colin Kaepernick proved that there is no stage like the Super Bowl, and he was rattled to start the game. He did eventually get his act together, and show that the future is bright with him running the show, but in the end, Super Bowl XLVII was won by the Baltimore Ravens, 34-31. The game was full of big plays, swings in momentum, and after a lengthy delay due to a power outage, lived up to all the hype. The final outcome stings for 49er fans, and the better team did not win the game, but the team that played the better game was Baltimore, and they earned and deserve the organization’s second ever Lombardi Trophy.
Too Little Too Late
Like every other game this post season, the 49ers got behind early, but this time, it had a lot had to do with the nerves of Colin Kaepernick. He was clearly excited to start his first Super Bowl and was overthrowing his receivers. He sailed a pass on the second drive, that Crabtree was still able to haul in and take for 38 yards, but Kaepernick was unable to calm his nerves and missed Crabtree later on the drive for a wide open touchdown. His accuracy problems continued and resulted in a second quarter interception that eventually led to a Baltimore touchdown. Kaepernick was not the only one off his game early, as his receivers dropped passes and the team had a penalty on the first play of the game. San Francisco was the younger team and it showed in their play. They woke up after halftime, but by then it was too late. In the end the 49ers could not have asked for too much more as they had a first down and goal on the Baltimore 7 and could have won the game with a touchdown, but fell just shy of pulling off a historic comeback.
Defense Unable To Lead Team to Victory
The offense was not the only area where San Francisco failed to make plays, as the defense was unable to do much to slow Joe Flacco and the Baltimore passing attack. As expected there was little the Ravens could do to run the ball, but gashed the 49ers with the pass. Flacco earned Super Bowl MVP honors with a 287 yard, three touchdown performance, and made the big plays when his team needed it. He spread the ball around to seven different receivers, but Anquan Boldin was the go-to-guy. Boldin made play after play, none bigger than a 3rd down conversion in the 4th helping his team seal the win. Like the offense, the defense played much better in the second half, but for a defense that has carried this team at times, allowing 27 points is too much. The area defensively that was the least effective was the pass rush. They sacked Flacco twice, but one was a complete breakdown on the Baltimore line, and Flacco never appeared under duress, as he had time to go through several progressions before deciding where to go with the ball in his MVP performance.
Specials Teams Quiet
Jacoby Jones was not only involved in the offense, with a 56-yard touchdown reception, but his 108 yard kickoff to start the second half is what helped put his team over the top. The 49ers coverage appeared to be caught off guard, surprised that he would try and bring it out, and put forth very little effort, barely touching Jones on his long scamper. David Akers made all of his attempts on the stat sheet, but he again missed a field goal from less than 40 yards (called back on a penalty) and appeared to hurt himself late in the game effecting the distance on his kickoffs, and how the team could approach a last second drive. Ted Ginn Jr. had a nice return, but like every other phase of the game, the 49ers did nothing in the first half special teams wise, which wasted any second half heroics.
San Francisco was not only outplayed in Super Bowl 47, but also out coached. The pressure was put on the 49ers after the coin toss put the ball in their hands first, and it was imperative to have some success on the opening drive. Instead they had a first down called back by the penalty on their first play. How this happens is inexplicable, and it took the rest of the half for the team to get on track. San Francisco burned two timeouts that would have come in handy at the end of the game, and made a very questionable challenge that although right, could have cost them another timeout, and was not worth the risk. The smartest call of the game though was the safety taken by the Ravens. The 49ers coaches were not ready for this tactic, and the players on the field let enough to run off that San Francisco was unable to get any final desperation heave into the end zone.
Not A Super Performance
The 49ers committed penalties, played a sloppy first half, dropped passes, settled for field goals and were out coached. This is not the formula for success in the Super Bowl, and they did not deserve to win. The good news is that once they got settled in both the team and their young quarterback proved that they do belong on this stage, and will be a contender for years to come. The team learned a valuable lesson, and will use the feeling of watching the Ravens celebrate like they used the defeat in the NFC Championship Game to fuel them this year. This loss will hurt for a while, but will keep the fire lit under a young and very talented team. The rest of the NFL had better be concerned as the two concerns heading into this season were experience and their quarterback. They can now check both these off the list, and will use the off season to refine other areas that need improvement, and will be back to contend for a Super Bowl next season, as a better team playing with a chip on their shoulder.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.