This past Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers lost the Super Bowl to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31. And although the Ravens were an excellent football team this past year, the fact remains that the 49ers blew missed opportunities and poorly executed their game plan in Super Bowl XLVII. Not to take anything away from the Ravens: they played a remarkable game and most certainly earned the win. But the mistakes that the 49ers let compile completely ruined their chances at a victory.
The 49ers completely dominated the Ravens offensively, putting up 468 total yards compared to the Ravens 367 total yards. The 49ers accumulated 182 rushing yards to the Ravens 93. They racked up 286 passing yards to the Ravens 274. And they boasted an average of 7.8 yards per play versus the Ravens 5.2 yards per play average. Judging by those statistics it’s hard to imagine how the 49ers lost the game.
The statistics that really killed the 49ers was their ones in the efficiency category: a category that the 49ers had grown much better at, and they hoped it would tilt the contest in their favor. The 49ers were 2-9 on third down attempts for a measly 22%, while the Ravens were 9-16 for 56%. What a harsh reminder of last year's NFC Championship game against the New York Giants! Red Zone efficiency wasn’t much better either, as the 49ers went 2-6 for 33%. The Ravens went 2-4 for 50% in the red zone.
But even more detrimental to the 49ers were the mistakes they made during the game that don't show up on the statistical side of things. First and foremost, the 49ers should have never been kicking the ball to Jacoby Jones. He was the best return man in the business this year, and eliminating his touches greatly helps the cause. Kick the ball out of the endzone or kick it out of bounds. It might even be a good idea to take the penalty and give the Ravens good field position at their own 40 yard line. But no, they kicked it to him, and Jacoby Jones took it 108 yards the other way for the touchdown.
Probably the biggest mistake made was during their last possession, where they had an opportunity to take the lead late in the ball game from deep inside the red zone. In four chances to get into the endzone, the 49ers did not use play action on any of the passes that quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw, nor did they try any option type run to get into the endzone. That’s what Kaepernick is supposed to be good at; why on Earth would they not try and utilize those talents at such a critical time of the game!? No, they rolled him out to the right three straight times, which limited his options by the approaching sideline.
And as far as play calling goes, Kaepernick should not be throwing the ball 28 times per game. They have a powerhouse running game; they needed to utilize it more. It’s well-documented that Kaepernick tends to struggle when he is asked to throw the ball that often: his pass attempts should have been kept right around 20 to 22. Yes, they were down 28-6, but this deficit took place very early in the third quarter, which means the 49ers could still run the ball.
However, Joe Flacco was just the better quarterback of the day, and the Baltimore Ravens earned every right to be Super Bowl XLVII Champions. Was their a holding call on Michael Crabtree on fourth and goal late in the fourth quarter? Perhaps, but it's also important to remember that the officials missed the hit out-of-bounds on Joe Flacco that would have given the Ravens first and goal. The officials weren't great, but the 49ers lost the Super Bowl fair-and-square. Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens and their safety Ed Reed, who now has the Super Bowl ring to go along with his Hall of Fam resume as a shut-down safety
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