Watching the San Francisco Forty-niners line up on the Baltimore 5-yard line with just under 3 minutes left in the Super Bowl, it occurred to me that maybe the Ravens should consider letting them score quickly so they would have plenty of time for their own game winning drive.
That’s why I’m not an NFL head coach and Raven linebacker Ray Lewis has his second championship ring after a storied defensive stand, ending with Kaepernick’s fade pass landing harmlessly, 5 yards out-of-bounds.
Many Niner fans will tell you San Francisco lost the Super Bowl in the last 3 minutes, but really it was the first thirty minutes of the game and a 108 yard kickoff return to open the second half that sealed their fate.
The 49ers looked overwhelmed out of the gate, incurring an illegal formation penalty on their first play and it was downhill from there. The Raven’s carved up the Niner defense dropping 21 points on them in the first half.
It may have been worse if the Superdome lights hadn’t gone out after the Raven’s sacked Kaepernick for a big loss. There’s no question San Francisco regrouped and regained their composure.
The Raven’s defense spent most of the second half on their heels, while the talented Turlock quarterback zinged fastballs through their coverage and ran circles around their linebackers.
Stopping the offensive juggernaut four plays and 5 yards short of the championship is as much a testament to a great defensive stand as it is a breakdown of composure with everything on the line.
But it’s not necessary to assign blame to the final offensive plays that went nowhere. Bottom line, the 49er’s did well to keep the game that close and their future looks brighter than ever.
It is important to realize though, that this young Niner team needs to mature into a composed winner, avoiding the pitfalls of falling behind quality opponents and relying on their young quarterback to run them back into contention.
The NFC West will not be any easier next year, in fact Seattle is now a team running around with something to prove and the Rams will surely be embolden by the fact the 49er’s never beat them this year.
Coach Harbaugh will have to utilize all his best tricks to keep this team focused and ready for another championship run. Hopefully, with this years experience, San Francisco’s success won’t be so fleeting.