Sometimes, the goal is just a little too far out of reach
And by 'goal', we really mean 'ball'.
The final passing play of the game for the San Francisco 49ers sailed a mere few feet out of the reach of receiver Michael Crabtree, eventually resulting in the very first Super Bowl loss in six chances for the franchise.
However, instead of heading over to the post-game press conferences and going with the standard "We'll get 'em next year" lines, several Niners stars (and one head coach) told the world that they should have won; that San Francisco had the game taken away from them by the referees.
Poor form. Check out what several San Francisco players had to say about the hectic final minutes of Super Bowl 47.
Frank Gore claims Niners 'were the better team'
Running back Frank Gore eclipsed the 100-yard plateau in the loss, and obviously a three-point margin means the teams were extremely close.
However, it was the Baltimore Ravens who were holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the game, not Gore and the Niners. That was not enough to prove to the franchise's all-time leading rusher that the Ravens were better, apparently.
"It's tough," the Niners star running back told the Associated Press. "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."
'A couple of plays' being the fact that Gore could not punch it in the end zone from Baltimore's five-yard line with less than two minutes to play.
"I think we're the better team," Gore said. "(I'm) just happy the way we kept fighting. Any other team probably would've just laid down, and we let people know what type of guys we've got in the locker room, type of warriors we are. It just didn't happen for us today."
"We could've ran on them all day," he said. "We called plays that we thought (were) good, and things didn't happen."
Gore put up some big numbers, but he could not, in fact, run on the Ravens 'all day'. If he could have, we are all sure that he would have.
Jim Harbaugh's critique of referees is scathing
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has worked miracles with a team that was in the dumps prior to his arrival in the Bay Area. However, facing his brother John and the Baltimore Ravens on Super Sunday, Jim looked like the younger brother he is. Especially at the end of the game when his team was going to lose.
After the final whistle blew, Harbaugh was all class in shaking hands with big bro, but he did not hold back on his criticisms of the refs following what he believed was a missed pass interference call on Ravens defenders in the end zone.
Had the call been made, the Niners would have had a first down and only a few yards to go to score a game-winning touchdown. However, it was not meant to be, and Harbaugh let the world know how he felt about the no-call.
“There was no question in my mind that was pass interference and then a hold on (Michael) Crabtree,” Harbaugh said. “I think it was obvious, but that's not the way they saw it.”
Later, with only seconds remaining in the football game, the Ravens opted to take a safety rather than punt out of their own endzone. Harbaugh claims he saw several holds, but none were called.
"Still haven't gotten an explanation on the safety," Harbaugh said. "It was obviously the intent of the Ravens to tackle and hold, but not one holding flag came out. It's a good scheme on their part to hold as many people as they can and you teach them just to tackle when you're taking a safety like that, but not one holding penalty was called. I haven't gotten an explanation.
"Again, I realize I'm on the side of the 49ers, I'm the coach of the 49ers. I probably have some bias there."
Crabtree felt the contact
The last passing play of the football game for the 49ers was a fade to the back right corner of the end zone from Colin Kaepernick to one of his go-to receivers, Michael Crabtree.
However, Crabtree was unable to come up with it. The throw was high, to be sure, but Crabtree believes that doesn't matter. Instead, the receiver told reporters right after the game that his offense should have gotten a whole new set of downs after he was interfered with.
"I mean, it felt like there was a lot of contact," Crabtree said. "I don't even want to say this, but if the ball had been a little lower, giving me a chance to make a play, I'm sure they would've called it (the penalty)."
Of course, all of this may have been moot had both he and tight end Vernon Davis managed to come down with touchdown passes that hit them right in the hands before falling harmlessly to the turf.
But Harbaugh, Gore, Crabtree and all the rest aren't talking about their own mistakes, just those perceived to be so on the part of the referees.
Colin Kaepernick puts the blame squarely upon himself
In what was probably the classiest reaction to the tough, 34-31 loss. Yes, the game was heartbreaking, especially considering the teams' furious comeback from a 28-6 deficit came up just a few yards short. However, Kaepernick understood that the difference in the game was turnovers.
And his play in the first half, as he told CSN Bay Area:
"Things weren't working in the first half," Kaepernick said. "We just didn't finish our drives. We turned the ball over a couple times. That was the difference in the game.
"I feel like I made too many mistakes for us to win."
Of course, this is a team game, and no one man wins or loses on his own. However, as the team's quarterback, Kaepernick is going to get too much credit when the Niners win and too much blame when they lose.
The fact that, after just his 10th career start as a professional, Kaepernick reacted to the loss so well professionally, speaks volumes about his character and the future of this franchise.