Quick Links

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

Quick Links

Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Five observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp on Saturday, the first practice with players wearing pads:

1. Running back Terrance West looks slimmer, quicker, and impressive both running and pass catching.

West had another strong day of practice, and got plenty of reps with both Kenneth Dixon (knee) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) still out. Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and Dixon are considered locks to make the 53-man roster. But West, a former Towson star and Baltimore product, could finally be realizing his potential after disappointing stops with the Browns and Titans. West could force the Ravens to keep four running backs, in addition to fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

2. Keenan Reynolds needs to step up his performance at wide receiver.

A host of wide receivers are performing better than Reynolds, who is trying to transition from Navy quarterback to NFL wide receiver. Reynolds had a couple of drops the first three days of practice, and has been unable to get open consistently. Meanwhile, wide receiver Chris Matthews had another strong day, as did Michael Campanaro. Reynolds can help the Ravens as a returner, but they have other players who can fill that role. For Reynolds to secure a roster spot, he needs to show he can help the Ravens as a receiver. Otherwise, the Ravens will face a difficult decision regarding Reynolds, a local fan favorite.

MORE RAVENS: LATEST INJURY NOTES FROM OWINGS MILLS

3. The way Kamalei Correa and Zach Orr are performing, the Ravens may not need to sign a veteran inside linebacker.

Correa had a sparkling one-handed interception Saturday, showing his hands and athleticism. Orr has been reading plays quickly and keeping himself around the football. Even if Correa wins the job at inside linebacker next to C. J. Mosley, there could be reps for Orr as well, giving the Ravens a promising young combo.

4. Saturday was not a crisp day for the offense.

The defense was the better unit, as the offense looked sloppy at times. There were a couple of bad snaps out of the shotgun from center Jeremy Zuttah, and a few false starts from the offensive line. There is plenty of time for cleanup before Week 1, but it’s not what the coaches want to see.

5. QB Joe Flacco and TE Dennis Pitta continued to look good.

Saturday made three straight days of practice for Flacco with no noticeable limping or discomfort. Flacco may be wearing a red jersey, but there have been no red flags regarding his surgically-repaired knee. Meanwhile, Pitta took a solid hit from Orr while attempting to make a catch, but Pitta jumped right to his feet. This was another good day for Pitta in his comeback from his second major hip injury.

Quick Links

DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan left Saturday’s practice early, while rookie wide receiver Chris Moore did not practice.  Coach John Harbaugh did not meet with the media after practice, and no reason was immediately given for either absence. ESPN reported that Jernigan suffered a minor rib area strain that was not considered serious.

Cornerback Jerraud Powers took the field for this first training camp practice, after finally passing the conditioning test. Powers was the lone player remaining who had not passed the test.

MORE RAVENS: WAY-TOO-EARLY 2017 NFL DRAFT TOP 10

In addition to the five players on the PUP list, tight end Crockett Gillmore (hamstring) and running back Kenneth Dixon (knee) did not practice.

In a roster move, the Ravens signed punter Michael Palardy to fill their open roster spot. Sam Koch, a Pro Bowl selection in 2015, is firmly entrenched as the Ravens’ punter. However, Palardy can take practice reps while the Ravens work their punt returners, reducing some of the strain on Koch’s leg.

Quick Links

Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

OWINGS MILLS - One of Marshal Yanda’s top priorities is to make sure the offensive line does its best to keep Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco healthy, unlike 2015, when Flacco suffered a season-ending knee injury. Having made five straight Pro Bowls as a right guard, Yanda is beginning his 10th NFL season, and his ninth season with Flacco as his quarterback. Yanda knows that much of the Ravens’ offensive success depends on Flacco staying healthy.

“We haven’t really talked about it specifically,” Yanda said. “But obviously, you know as an offensive line, we talk about it, and you coach it. You’re going to keep your guys as far away from the quarterback as possible. Obviously, there is probably more emphasis this year with the knee.”

MORE RAVENS: DAY 2 TRAINING CAMP OBSERVATIONS

When Flacco sees game action for the first time this season, Yanda doesn’t expect his quarterback to play tentatively due to his knee.

“He’s going to have to make his read,” Yanda said. “We have certain plays where he is going to be on the move, no matter what. We know about it: it is conscious in my mind; it is conscious in the offensive line’s mind and his mind, too. I feel like he just has to play through that. I had a knee (injury) once before, and he just has to get reps and get comfortable with the way it is feeling now. It will always feel a little different. That is just normal. It will continue to get normal as he keeps playing.”