Tuesday, February 5, 2013

49ers' Worst Loss Ever

It hurts.  We don't lose Superbowls.  And yet, after a 109 yard 2nd half kickoff return, we found ourselves down by an ultimately insurmountable 22 points.  Do we deserve to win if we're ever down by 22?  No.  Were we cheated by a holding call at the end?  (Or even a pass interference on 2nd down?)

Maybe.  But that's not the reason we lost.  We lost because our defense couldn't stop them from scoring TDs in the first half.  We lost because we couldn't get pressure on Flacco to prevent some of those long pass plays.  We lost because Culliver couldn't prevent that long bomb or the ridiculous TD run-after-catch.  We lost because our offense couldn't score more than 6 points in the entire first half.  We lost because LaMichael James pulled a Kyle Williams and didn't protect the ball.  We lost because of terrible time management right before the half - had we scored, it would have been just 21-10 at the half.  We lost because our shoddy kickoff coverage allowed Jacoby to run straight up the middle for a 109 yard back-breaking TD.  We lost because Kaepernick's inexperience cost us 2 valuable timeouts - nobody should be allowed to take a timeout mid 3rd quarter ever.  We lost because the play-calling on our last 4 downs was terrible - no passes into the endzone until the last 4th down gasp.

Give Baltimore the credit.  They imposed their offensive will on us right off the bat.  They were disciplined enough to maintain all three 2nd half timeouts to the very end - had we scored a TD on our last drive, there's a great chance they would've have tied/won the game with a last second FG.  Their defense made it difficult on our last 4 downs to score.  They realized that Kaepernick's inexperience might manifest on the most critical downs with a overloaded blitz - he didn't have a go-to hot route rapport with any WR.

Just like our first two playoff games, we were a team of two halves, especially on defense.  In the divisional round, Green Bay scored 24 points in the first half and 3 in the 2nd half.  In the NFC Championship, Atlanta scored 24 points in the 1st half, and zero in the 2nd.  Here, Baltimore scored 21 in the 1st half and only 6 points against our defense in the 2nd half.  But, that kickoff return TD is what killed us.  How can we expect to mount comebacks in back-to-back playoff games?  We can't expect to go down 17 points one week and then 22 points the next and emerge with wins.

That we had a chance to go ahead in the last few minutes of the game is a testament to SF's resiliency.  We scored 17 straight points in the 3rd quarter to pull within 5.  We had a chance to tie the game with a 2 point conversion with 10 minutes left.  Kaepernick actually had more yards than Flacco with 302 yards and rushed for another 62.  We had a pair of 100 yd receivers - Crabtree with 109, Davis with 104.  Gore finished with  with 110 yards on 19 carries (5.8 average).  We just needed one more stinkin' TD.

I haven't been able to bring myself to watch TV or go to sports sites.  I'm in sports depression.  This is the worst loss ever.

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