Sunday night, the 49ers season ended in a manner that is becoming all too familiar for 49ers fans. Needing a touchdown in the waning seconds, Colin Kaepernick threw a fade to Michael Crabtree in the endzone, and once again it failed.
The Seattle Seahawks defeated the 49ers 23-17 and will represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVIII in New York.
Let's get to the answers for the 5 burning questions that I asked on Friday.
1) Can the defense keep the ball away from Marshawn Lynch? NO
Since the start of the 2010 season the 49ers have allowed a 100-yard rusher only 6 times; 4 of those have come at the legs of Marshawn Lynch. It was a Lynch 40-yard touchdown run on the Seahawks fourth play of the second half that tied the game at 10. That was the longest run given up by the 49ers defense throughout the 2013 season.
2) Can the 49ers offense score more than 19 points? NO
Since Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach of the 49ers, his offense has not scored more than 19 points against Seattle. They haven't scored more than 1 offensive touchdown in any game against the Seahawks.
While the 49ers finally found a way to score 2 offensive touchdowns in a game against Seattle, they were still held under 19 points.
3) Will Roman get Gore involved? NO
Seattle has become Frank Gore's house of horrors. In the 49ers last three trips to Seattle Gore has gained 28, 16, and 14 yards on 11 carries Sunday night.
4) Will the defense be able to contain Russell Wilson? YES and NO
The 49ers defense was able to contain Wilson in the pocket, but he made them pay with his arm. With the Seahawk offense stuck in neutral he was able to buy time with his legs and hit Doug Baldwin with a 51-yard completion that led to Seattle's first points of the game.
Facing 3rd and 22 at midfield to start the 4th quarter, Wilson did what he has done all season long, making clutch throws. His 15 yard completion on 3rd down set up 4th and 7 from the 49ers 35 yard line, and Wilson threw a perfect ball to Jermaine Kearse for a touchdown that would end up as the game winner.
5) Can Colin Kaepernick beat the Seahawks with his arm? NO
Colin Kaepernick played a remarkable game, accounting for 283 of the 308 yards put up by the 49ers offense. His 58-yard run led to the 49ers first touchdown, and his 26-yard touchdown throw to Anquan Boldin was a perfect response to the long Lynch touchdown run.
Unfortunately all of that went away in the fourth quarter. The 49ers had three possessions in the final quarter and all of them ended with Kaepernick turnovers.
The 49ers defense did an admirable job of keeping the team within a single score, and just as he had done in the final moments of Super Bowl XLVII, Kaepernick drove the 49ers within range to steal the game.
After not testing Richard Sherman through the first 59:30 of the game Kaepernick decided to go after him and Sherman made him pay, batting the ball away and into the arms of a hustling Malcolm Smith to seal the victory for Seattle.
49ers 13 Seahawks 16
Date: January 21, 2014 at 8:57 PM
Comment: Kap trusts Crab too much. Kap could be a great QB but currently has poor decision making skills in tight situations, he spends too much time looking to his right which is why his receivers are always covered and Crab expects the ball to be thrown to him instead of going after it. I'm Niner Faithful but these guys frustrate the hell out of me. Yeah we got dealt a bad hand with some key penalties, but if our team played better those penalties shouldn't matter. We suck in the red zone and until we fix that, and Kaps decision making we won't win a SB.
So I don't sound like Debbie Downer, I was very happy with the lack of delay of game penalties and wasted time-outs.
Date: January 21, 2014 at 3:58 PM
Comment: 49ers offered Harbaugh a extension last off season, he did not agree to. I feel Harbaugh wants more personnel control. He stated he will fight to keep the vets. 49ers are going into the off season with a cap problem. Players contracts are coming up, you have numerous free agents contracts & you have very little room under the cap. In the NFL 3 years is a eternity.
With 13 draft choices, several young players coming off IR there has to be a big turn over this year. Harbaugh will fight this.
By: Rob KC
Date: January 21, 2014 at 7:17 AM
Comment: Both teams played a hard-fought game and the Seahawk's deserve their shot. Frankly, even if the 'Niners had won it would be a difficult task going up against Denver without Iupati, Bowman and possibly Gore (assuming the reports of him playing with a broken hand are accurate). Let Seattle get Manning-handled.
I am proud to be a Niner fan and am glad I have finally been getting my money's worth for Sunday Ticket over the last 3 years. The future certainly appears bright and I am looking forward to seeing an infusion of talent at the WR spot and the continued maturation of Kaepernick and hopefully the offense as a whole. It will be exciting to watch.
And for all those out there who will undoubtedly call for Harbaugh's head: Get Real!!! Three conference championships and a trip to the Super Bowl should equate to a large and long contract extension. Considering this is a first, tell me where there is a better coach?
Date: January 21, 2014 at 5:15 AM
Comment: I've enjoyed these articles all year, but one of the questions I thought you would have had for the championship game was "Will we get stiffed by the refs again?" After the non-fumble against the Giants a couple of years ago (forward progress my ass), the blatant holding in the kick off return in the superbowl last season, and then the blown calls (Bowmans fumble recovery, Rogers personal foul and the roughing the kicker penalties) on Sunday, I think the refs just don't like us.
Honestly though if you look at the decisions coming from the refs over the season, the officiating has been poor with some dreadful decisions that can't be challenged (not just against us, but in some of the other games around the league). The refs are there to ensure the game runs according to the laws, not to impact the game. The NFL needs to look hard at whether the review system is affecting their judgement or if they just aren't up to it.
My prayers and hopes are with Navarro Bowman while he recovers, and I would love for Manning to teach Sherman a lesson in the superbowl.
Date: January 20, 2014 at 8:54 PM
Comment: 2 different qbs same pathetic passing offense ( last in the league this year) in the last game of the year. cant see how a hc can not try to fix the pass offense. no one can just run over and bully teams to the super bowl ( see raiders vs redskins) if harbaugh doesnt make some changes this year we seriously need to evaluate this extension thing.
Date: January 20, 2014 at 2:11 PM
Comment: Bottom line is, CK7 made a bad mistake with the ball when he should have went to Boldin who appeared to be open or have a better match up. Not to mention he made an even bigger mistake on the previous drive. I won't lay it all at his feet since he actually had a decent game. Our secondary really played bad. I'm not quite sure how or why we played so much zone against these crappy receivers. That all being said, a few calls or a few plays go the other way and we wouldn't have this conversation. This is just fuel to why we need to have home field next year.
By: Rob D
Date: January 20, 2014 at 1:49 PM
Comment: Hey, STeeler fan here. I enjoyed the game but thought the 9ers were way too conservative to start the game. Great O-line, Vernon, Crab, Boldin, Gore..I think they should have had more of an offensive game plan than letting CK scan the field for a millisecond and then tuck the ball and run. I know he's a great runner but your team had to establish a passsing game. Where were the crossing routes, the slants, the screens? It's like you ceded that part of the game from minute one. By the time you unleashed CK , he has zero confidence in himself since the OC showed none in him to begin the game. I belive the better team lost yesterday. It's tough to win 3 playoff games on the road but this one got away because of cautious, conservative offensive play calling, IMO. CK is going to be a great QB though..remember, he's still a pup.
Date: January 20, 2014 at 12:48 PM
Comment: I would have to agree with the statement that the niners need to learn how to finish.All season long they were below average in the red zone,this weakness would prove to be their Achilles heel!
Date: January 20, 2014 at 11:18 AM
Comment: Difference between Wilson and Kapernick's desperation bombs? Intelligence.
Wilson knew he had a free play and attacked Rogers who was the San Francisco weak spot, had been all game.
Kapernick, out of ego and desperation tried to stick the winning score on Seattle's best corner who he stayed away from all game. He wanted to lay the winning score on Sherman, and throw the winning TD to his mouthy friend Crabtree. After the game he still had not learned his lesson saying he would take that matchup every time.
Sorry but you lose that matchup 10/10 times. Crab is not Megatron.
You attack the other teams weak spot like Wilson did. That is the difference between the two QB's and really Kapernick's glaring weakness. Intelligence and understanding of the game.
By: Paul A.
Date: January 20, 2014 at 10:58 AM
Nice work under difficult conditions.
What we have learned in three years.
Kaepernick =inexpereince and Hubris
The team=Great players
The commentators/Bloggers=The Best
Thank you Jack
Date: January 20, 2014 at 9:37 AM
Comment: Interesting, so if Crab catches that ball, what would you write? Wilson did basically nothing last night. He threw one desperation bomb and a great pass on 4 and 6 that amazingly snuck through. Kaep led two drives and two TD's. Lynch effectively had one 40 yard run. He doesn't break that play and the rest of his night is pedestrian (no different than when Gore broke his run against Hawks at home). Bottom line, these are two evenly matched teams with home field being the difference. You really cannot argue that based on the facts, so let's not overreact of overthink this too much. The 49ers played two brutal games on the road, winning in Seattle was a uphill battle from start.
I still don't see any teams on the horizon that will be able to beat these guys for the next few years. Rams regressed, Cardinals still don't have QB, Carolina is Carolina, so we will see if they can sustain success. Most teams are aging out there. We 13 picks, and two potential studs who redshirted this year. If anything, this team should be better next year assuming Bowman comes back and Kaep continues to develop. Let's celebrate the future here.