Kaepernick nearly leads another 49ers comeback

201302031907688258263-p2.jpeg

Kaepernick nearly leads another 49ers comeback

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Under pressure and off balance, Colin Kaepernick released a fourth-down throw into the end zone with the outcome of the Super Bowl hanging in the balance.

Everyone in the Superdome could see that the ball wasn't caught as it sailed over Michael Crabtree. Enraged San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh argued for why: He thought Crabtree got held, bumped by cornerback Jimmy Smith with safety Ed Reed trailing the play.

``There's no question in my mind that there was a pass interference and then a hold on Crabtree on the last one,'' Harbaugh said.

The San Francisco 49ers' remarkable unbeaten run in their first five Super Bowls ended with a 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, though they nearly pulled off the greatest championship comeback yet.

With three chances from the 5 and less than 2 minutes remaining, Kaepernick threw three straight incomplete passes intended for Crabtree, including the last on which Harbaugh screamed from the sideline and signaled for a penalty.

Kaepernick hardly reacted, lowering his head slightly and walking slowly off the field.

``That wasn't the original option,'' Kaepernick said. ``It's something I audibled to at the line based on the look they gave us.''

No comeback this time in the Big Easy.

Kaepernick got tripped up and tossed down, then nearly rallied his team once more in his 10th career NFL start.

Still, with Kaepernick leading the way, the 49ers thought they had it.

``I think everybody was thinking that,'' right guard Alex Boone said. ``Execution in the red zone wasn't where it was supposed to be today. It's a bad feeling.''

Rarely rattled on an impressive path to the Super Bowl, Kaepernick - San Francisco's gutsy second-year quarterback with those speedy legs - finally showed some inexperience on football's big stage. Not to mention some guts.

After a remarkable postseason run by the tattooed play-caller, the Ravens exposed plenty of flaws in handing Kaepernick and Co. despite San Francisco's second-half rally.

``We were ready for the second half,'' Kaepernick said. ``We knew we had to score to get back in the game. We had good plays, we had bad plays in the red zone.''

No team has come from more than 10 points down to win a Super Bowl, and Kaepernick had a chance to make it happen less than three months after becoming San Francisco's starter.

He regrouped during a 34-minute delay early in the third quarter because of a power outage, finding his groove and turning the Super Bowl into a wild game down the stretch - and gave yet more credibility to the pistol offense designed by his old college coach that is so well suited for the NFL's young, mobile quarterbacks.

``Colin was cool the entire game,'' left tackle Joe Staley said. ``Colin was the same he's been the whole entire season. He's never shown any hints of being rattled, any hint of being uncomfortable on the football field, and he showed that exact kind of character today.''

Kaepernick directed four second-half scoring drives, throwing a 31-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree and also running 15 yards for a TD. But the 49ers missed the two-point conversion that would have tied the game with less than 10 minutes left.

Crabtree didn't get much help in a mistake-filled first half by San Francisco (13-5-1), which failed to stop Joe Flacco and deliver the franchise's sixth championship that would have matched the Pittsburgh Steelers for most ever.

The 49ers' perfect Super Bowl record? That's over, too. They lost for the first time in the title game.

Perhaps it's a bit premature to begin talking Bay Area dynasty again - in football, at least.

Playing for a title for the first time since Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice won with a rout of San Diego 18 years ago, Jim Harbaugh's Niners made costly mistakes on both sides of the ball early in the game. And special teams, too.

Kaepernick wound up 16 for 28 for 302 yards with three sacks and an interception for a 91.7 passer rating in his outstanding Super Bowl debut. The interception was the first by the 49ers in six Super Bowls and ended a streak at 169 passes without one.

Kaepernick also rushed for 62 yards, joining Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks to pass for 300 yards and run for 50 in a Super Bowl. Kaepernick recorded the fourth 300-yard passing performance by the 49ers in the Super Bowl - Montana had two and Young one.

The 25-year-old Kaepernick completed eight of 13 first-half passes, was sacked twice and threw an interception as San Francisco fell behind 21-6.

In the NFC championship game at Atlanta two weeks ago, such a deficit was no problem. Kaepernick rallied the Niners back from 17-0, while the defense delivered by holding the Falcons scoreless in the second half to win 28-24.

This time, Kaepernick led his team into the end zone for the first time with 7:20 remaining in the third quarter after the power outage when he found Crabtree.

But a stingy San Francisco defense that relied on its ball-hawking, run-stopping play all season, couldn't consistently slow down Flacco and the high-powered Ravens.

Leading up to the Super Bowl, Kaepernick had handled himself beautifully in hostile environments - beating Drew Brees and the Saints right here in the Superdome on Nov. 25, and later guiding the Niners at New England. And, of course, the win against the Falcons on Jan. 20 that returned San Francisco to the Super Bowl at last.

``I was just sitting there watching Kaep with the ball and knowing that this whole team has trust in him and that he had everything in his hands,'' defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. ``We just knew that the ball was going in the end zone, through Frank, through Kaep, even getting the ball to Randy (Moss) or Crabtree with the hands he has.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Ronnie Stanley could begin Ravens career at guard instead of tackle

bradjacksonstanleyrefframe_1.jpg

Ronnie Stanley could begin Ravens career at guard instead of tackle

OWINGS MILLS – Will Ronnie Stanley make his Ravens debut at left tackle or left guard?

Stanley was drafted No. 6 overall to be the Ravens’ long-term fixture at left tackle. But in the short term, the Ravens must decide if moving Stanley to left guard, and keeping Eugene Monroe for another season at left tackle, would be better or worse for the entire offensive line.

The Ravens don’t need to make a hasty decision on whether to cut or keep Monroe, who is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Remember, if they cut Monroe, the Ravens are a lot thinner at left tackle if something happens to Stanley. Once Monroe is healthy, the Ravens can see how he performs before determining his fate. 

Playing Stanley at left guard could also fill the void created when left guard Kelechi Osmele signed with the Raiders during free agency. John Urschel and Rick Wagner are expected to compete for the starting left guard job, but Stanley’s talent could make him the best option.

Stanley played both left tackle and right tackle at Notre Dame, but his only action at guard came during a spring game. However, Stanley was not opposed to the idea of switching to guard during his Ravens’ debut press conference Friday at team headquarters.

“I can handle it,” Stanley said of playing guard. “Wherever the coaches put me that they see fit, that’s where I’ll play.”

Ravens offensive line coach Juan Castillo believes competing with Monroe could accelerate Stanley’s development.

“We’re going to let Ronnie go in there and compete with Eugene,” Castillo said. “We want to play the best five players. Ronnie is a very good athlete, good player, so is Eugene. So we let them compete. We’re going to play the five best guys. The Ravens are all about competition. Coach (John) Harbaugh talks about that. It just makes everybody better.

Castillo believes Stanley has the skill set to play guard, despite his lack of experience there.

"Jonathan Ogden did that (played guard) his first year,” said Castillo, referring to the Hall of Fame left tackle who had a legendary career with the Ravens. “You draft tackles because they’re the better athletes. You stick them inside at guard, a lot of times what happens for those tackles, they say, ‘Whoa, it’s a lot easier inside. There’s not as much green to be able to cover.’"

Eventually, the Ravens expect Stanley to be their starting left tackle. But Monroe may not have lost the job just yet.

Ravens CB Jimmy Smith having surgery to remove screws from foot

newsomeharbaughstanleyrefframe_1.jpg

Ravens CB Jimmy Smith having surgery to remove screws from foot

Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is scheduled to have surgery this weekend to have screws removed from the right foot he injured in 2014, according to the Baltimore Sun, and confirmed by CSN. The Ravens hope Smith will be ready for the start of training camp in late July, and the expected timetable for recovery is four to six weeks.

Smith was never 100 percent last season, but played through pain and discomfort, after suffering his Lisfranc injury in November of 2014.

“It’s definitely a difficult injury, kind of more than I expected,” Smith said earlier this month at the start of the Ravens’ offseason training program. “It’s very…you can live with it, you can play with it. Obviously, I played with it last year – not at the level that I expected myself to – but I think I’ll be better this year.”

The Ravens were already in the market for cornerbacks, and that will not change when the draft resumes Friday night. Despite re-signing Shareece Wright and getting Kyle Arrington to restructure his contract, the starting cornerback spot opposite Smith is open, and the Ravens need more depth there, especially with Lardarius Webb moving from corner to safety.

 

 

Will Ravens use extra picks to make trades in NFL Draft rounds 2 and 3?

newsomeharbaughstanleyrefframe_1.jpg

Will Ravens use extra picks to make trades in NFL Draft rounds 2 and 3?

With eight picks remaining in the draft, including the fifth pick in the second round (No. 36 overall), the Ravens are just getting started making moves. Here are three reasons why the Ravens might make a trade Friday night during round 2 or round 3:

1. The Ravens need to strengthen their chances of getting a quality pass rusher or corner.

If the Ravens want a corner or pass rusher who can step in and contribute next season, it’s getting late. Before the draft, Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said he felt more pressure thinking about the second-round pick (No. 36) than he did the first round. The Ravens won’t sit around and wait if they sense all the players they covet slipping away. Don’t be surprised to see the Ravens trade up in either Round 2 or 3 to target a player they want. Corners still on the board include Mackensie Alexander of Clemson, Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech, Xavien Howard of Baylor, and Cyrus Jones of Alabama. Pass rushers on the board include Kamalei Correa of Boise St. and Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky. The third round could be too late to get any of those players.

2. The chance to get UCLA inside linebacker Myles Jack makes the start of Round 2 even more fluid.

Jack is a first-round talent who is only available due to concerns about his knee. Many teams, including the Ravens, could be thinking about picking Jack, or trading up to get him.

3. If the Ravens keep all of their picks, all nine players are unlikely to make the team.

The Ravens already have a crowded roster at several positions, including running back and tight end. They will also bring in more free agents once the draft is over. It makes sense to trade a pick or two, in exchange for a player who helps them next season.