The San Francisco 49ers did a great job in Super Bowl XLVII. They fought their way back from 22 points down and had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter. Where they didn’t do such a great job was after the game. The Niners – and their fans – have loudly complained over a no-call on what they believe should have been a defensive pass interference (the ball was already in the air, so it would be pass interference and not defensive holding) on Baltimore Ravens corner Jimmy Smith. After two incomplete Colin Kaepernick passes to Michael Crabtree, the Niners called the same play once more on their final play of the season. Here’s what they had to say afterwards.
Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh:
I really want to handle this with class and grace, and we had several opportunities in this game … But there’s no question in my mind that there was a pass interference — and then a hold on Crabtree on the last one.
Niners running back Frank Gore:
It’s tough … I just feel like we [were] the better team. They got away with one today. We showed we were the better team. It was just a couple plays here, a couple plays there … I think we’re the better team.
Now, I know it’s tough when you feel like your team deserved another chance, but I have no problem with the referees not calling Smith for the pass interference. I wouldn’t have had a problem if they had called it either, but Crabtree was doing a bit of pushing himself.
If San Francisco wants to make a stink about the no-call, fine, but then they’re going to have to admit that they were on the other side of a no-call in their win over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Conference Championship. Atlanta needed a fourth down conversion to extend their chance for victory, but the Matt Ryan pass to Roddy White was broken up by San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who committed – in my mind – a much more egregious hold than the Jimmy Smith one in the Super Bowl.
And I don’t think Gore should be quite so convinced that the 49ers ‘showed they were the better team.’ If that were the case, the “better team” turned the ball over twice, allowed a special teams touchdown, allowed the opposing quarterback to complete 67% percent of his passes, and allowed their opponent to convert nine out of 16 third downs. The Niners may have played great the second half, but Gore needs to look at the first half, too.
I can deal with the players being upset over the no call, but Jim Harbaugh has to be better than that. His team will follow his lead and, while he had the microphone in front of him, he should have kept his mouth shut on the referees. He can say whatever he wants to his players privately, but he did not represent the 49ers organization in the best light in his postgame comments. Regardless of the validity of his complaint, Harbaugh’s comments give the impression of being a sore loser.
Instead of being angry at the officials, maybe Harbaugh should have directed some of his ire towards himself. He should be angry at himself for calling pretty much the same play three consecutive — and unsuccessful — times in a goal-to-go situation. He should be angry at himself for not having Kaepernick run on that third down. Kaepernick was having success rushing against Baltimore, and the Niners were already in four-down territory. Harbaugh should be angry with himself for poor play-calling in crunchtime.
Like I said, I really do understand from a fan’s point of view how frustrating and upsetting it is for your team to lose (or not have the opportunity to win) on a questionable call, but fans should be the ones making that point, not the head coach. Let the fans and the media do all the talking. Let the media be the ones saying your team should have won. Appearing to be a sore loser doesn’t look good on anyone, and Jim Harbaugh owes it to the players and the fans to represent the 49ers organization better than he did on Sunday night.