Gloom . . . despair . . . Sunday’s NFC championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks made me so sad I couldn’t write about it for days. Well, actually, family medical issues kept me from my keyboard, but Sunday was indeed a sad day for 49ers fans.
I was disappointed with the outcome of the game, but not totally surprised that the Seahawks prevailed. They have been playing great all season. After they beat San Francisco in Seattle in September, I predicted they would go to the Super Bowl, although I hoped I was wrong.
The 49ers played two fantastic play-off games, but couldn’t pull through in this last match-up. During the first quarter I was excited when QB Colin Kaepernick ran the football himself so many times. That was the Kap I was used to seeing at University of Nevada games and his first few NFL starts last season. Using his strengths seemed a wise choice – something that hasn’t been allowed much this season.
Most of the time Kap is very disciplined; you can see it on his face. The 49ers last drive against the Seahawks began like the drives that won their games against the Packers and the Panthers. But in the last couple of plays Sunday, as I got anxious as the clock wound down, Kap seemed to get anxious too. Or at least he looked a bit less tight and disciplined. Then he threw an interception that sealed Seattle’s victory.
Kaepernick took responsibility for the loss at the post-game press conference, saying he just didn’t play well enough. He deserves some of the blame, but football is a team sport, so the blame should be spread around. Several times during the game my spouse yelled at the TV as defensive players allowed a Seahawk carrying the ball to run by right next to them.
Beyond the quality of play, I have to wonder what the outcome might have been if the officials hadn’t blown a call early in the fourth quarter. Television replays clearly showed that NaVorro Bowman captured a fumbled ball and landed on his back in full possession. He was down before an opposing player took the ball from him, but officials awarded possession to Seattle. Unfortunately it was a non-reviewable play. It might have made a difference, but we’ll never know. (The wrong call was bad enough, but Bowman was injured and missed the rest of the game.)
Tarell Brown, Donte Whitner, Anthony Dixon, Anquan Boldin and consistent kicker Phil Dawson are among the Niners who become free agents in the off-season, but San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh has said he hopes to keep the team together for next season. I don’t know if/how the 49ers management can accomplish that, but it’s obviously a winning combination.