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Shutdown Corner

Jim Harbaugh vows to handle Super Bowl loss ‘with class and grace,’ then rips refs after the game

By Doug Farrar

By Doug Farrar | Shutdown Corner13 hours ago

NEW ORLEANS — San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was understandably unhappy after losing Super Bowl XLVII by the agonizing score of 34-31. Losing to his older brother, as he did to brother John, had to put a little more salt in the wound. Also, the fact that the 49ers outgained the Ravens by 101 yards probably didn’t help Jim’s mood. And it’s true that referee Jerome Boger’s crew made some very “interesting” calls in this game.

However, when it behooved Harbaugh to ease back from the officiating issue, try to appreciate one of the best Super Bowls ever played, put the spotlight on his brother, and shine the bad stuff on for another day, the man Mike Ditka once called the most competitive player he ever coached just couldn’t do it.

“You know, I really want to handle this with class and grace, and we had several opportunities in this game,” Harbaugh said just a few minutes after the game ended. “We didn’t play our best game, and the Ravens made a lot of plays and battled back. They competed to win. But there’s no question in my mind that it was a pass interference, and hold on [Michael] Crabtree on the last one.”

[More: 49ers’ Michael Crabtree: ‘It was a missed call’ | Non-call debated]

The play Harbaugh was talking about happened with 1:50 left in the game. The 49ers had fourth-and-goal at the Baltimore five-yard line, and after two incompletions to receiver Michael Crabtree, Kaepernick put the ball up again in Crabtree’s direction. It certainly looked on the play that Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith held Crabtree’s jersey long enough for a flag to be thrown, but no flag was forthcoming.

“I mean, I haven’t seen the play yet,” Crabtree said after the game. “I’m sure I’m going to watch film. I’m a football player. I’m going to critique myself and figure out ways to get better. I can’t wait to see it on film. I was just really determined to make the play, and he got his hands on me. I feel like he got his hands on me, and I guess the refs said he made a good play.”

“People ask me why … I’m an angry guy…” (AP)

Harbaugh, who will become apoplectic over what he perceives to be the smallest miscarriage of justice put upon his team, went completely ballistic on the sidelines towards the end of the Super Bowl. It was understandable, to be sure — the play effectively ended the game, and given the way Boger’s crew was calling things at times, Harbaugh may have expected a different result.

“I thought he made a lot of good throws the entire game,” Harbaugh said of Kaepernick. “One was a little high. There was a lot of fourth-quarter comeback there. But again, in my opinion, that [last] series should have continued.”

[Related: Harbaughs share sweet but awkward exchange | Photos]

That wasn’t the only call that got quite a bit up Harbaugh’s nose. With 8:35 left in the game, and the Ravens up 31-29, cornerback Chris Culliver was called for pass interference on a Joe Flacco pass to Torrey Smith from the Baltimore 22-yard line. That foul, which did seem questionable on its face, took the Ravens from third-and-9 at the 22 to first-and-10 at the Baltimore 36-yard line. Culliver was toasted through most of the game, but Harbaugh didn’t seem to have as much of a problem with that.

“I didn’t think that was interference, either, on that second-to-last drive,” Harbaugh said after the game.

Two plays later, after a two-yard run by Bernard Pierce, Flacco threw a short pass to Anquan Boldin and the officials gave Boldin what seemed like a generous spot. Harbaugh chose to challenge the spot, and it was overturned on review.

[Y! Sports Fan Shop: Buy Ravens Super Bowl champions merchandise]

Harbaugh later balked at another play in which he believed the Ravens should have been called for offensive pass interference. He also had a major problem with what he perceived to be offensive holding when the Ravens took an intentional safety with 12 seconds left in the game. Punter Sam Koch ran around in the end zone for a few seconds to run down the clock, and Harbaugh didn’t like anything about that.

“I still haven’t gotten an explanation when they took the safety — the Ravens can’t tackle us and hold us. It’s good scheme on their part to hold as many people as they can, but they teach people to basically tackle when you’re taking a safety. But not one holding penalty was called. It was very curious, and I never got an explanation on that stuff.”

Harbaugh tried to deflect all the hot air after that last quote — after a while, it must have seemed to even him that he was taking this stuff past its logical end.

“I realize that I’m on the side of the San Francisco 49ers — I’m the coach of the 49ers, and I’m probably a little biased. In my mind, I would think it was obvious, but they didn’t see it that way.”

Yes, when you’re a really hyper-competitive individual who just lost a Super Bowl, you can be expected to go a bit off the rails. But Harbaugh devoted an abnormally high percentage of his media session to the officiating issues, and it wasn’t as if his team didn’t have enough shots at a win no matter what. There’s also the matter of the holding call that should have been on Crabtree … well, sure it might have been holding, but why on earth didn’t Harbaugh, with the best offensive line in the league and a dynamic rushing attack, fail to ground-and-pound it? All he had to say about that was “We had some other plays called.”

[Photos: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh faces brother, Ravens coach John]

In the end, that’s the primary issue I have with what Harbaugh did after the game. I’ve talked with him in several media settings before, and he’s a guy who always wants to control his environment. Even when he’s asked intelligent questions, he will sometimes treat those questions with scorn, derision, and sometimes, even abject silence. It’s frustrating and humiliating to deal with, and Harbaugh can’t have it both ways. If he was forthright and straight up about everything else, we might at least back up and think, “Well, at least he’s true to form.”

But that’s not the case here. Quite simply, Jim Harbaugh went off the grid at the worst possible time, and cheapened his own team’s efforts in doing so. It was a great Super Bowl, and the 49ers should be congratulated for helping to make it so.

Their coach, however, took a different path.

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  • v1/comments/context/ece68146-8d54-37ca-9db0-96bbc617d156/comment/1359975636960-227706b9-3651-43e7-a45c-4ade8f733ef1

    Keith

    1812users liked this commentPlease sign in to rate a Thumb UpPlease sign in to rate a Thumb Down117users disliked this comment

    Keith  •  8 hours ago Report Abuse

    Absolutely terrible play calling by Jim Harbaugh at the end of the game. 1st and goal at the 7 and you don’t even try running the ball with Gore or Kaepernick? Stupid, stupid, stupid. Also, I never understood why announcers think refs shouldn’t call penalties late in the game. A penalty is a… More

    138 Replies

    • v1/comments/context/ece68146-8d54-37ca-9db0-96bbc617d156/comment/1359975636960-227706b9-3651-43e7-a45c-4ade8f733ef1/reply/00085s000000000000000000000000-b975ef60-1779-4cf0-a761-51d490cf411a

      DavidC

      56users liked this commentPlease sign in to rate a Thumb UpPlease sign in to rate a Thumb Down7users disliked this comment

      DavidC 29 minutes ago</ABBR”> Report Abuse

      Harbaugh has no one to blame but himself for his conservative use of Kaepernick when it was clear they had nothing to lose by letting him use his talents to their best advantage. Especially on the 1st and goal opportunity. There is no excuse for failing to score on first and goal to go in the… More

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  • v1/comments/context/ece68146-8d54-37ca-9db0-96bbc617d156/comment/1359962505992-9f9d7c4b-0e12-4a9d-b9c6-0f3a2c007ee4

    Ovais

    1434users liked this commentPlease sign in to rate a Thumb UpPlease sign in to rate a Thumb Down96users disliked this comment

    Ovais  •  12 hours ago Report Abuse

    A big call a lot of people aren’t even taking notice of is how Carey Williams shoved a ref and didn’t get ejected. That’s in itself was a big head scratcher for me. As a neutral fan, I feel like although at some point both teams probably had calls missed, the Ravens no-calls at the end of the game… More

    96 Replies

  • v1/comments/context/ece68146-8d54-37ca-9db0-96bbc617d156/comment/1359958484549-a8363a0b-f4b1-4133-9fc0-b132facce3f5

    Swagman 12

    388users liked this commentPlease sign in to rate a Thumb UpPlease sign in to rate a Thumb Down26users disliked this comment

    Swagman 12  •  13 hours ago Report Abuse

    The bottom line is the Niners blew it … 1st and goal, and you dont give it to Gore once? Or have QB run …. stupid …

    17 Replies

  • v1/comments/context/ece68146-8d54-37ca-9db0-96bbc617d156/comment/1359997816464-1af4b45c-ac93-4aea-9212-edb850f1664b

    foolinwitu

    319users liked this commentPlease sign in to rate a Thumb UpPlease sign in to rate a Thumb Down24users disliked this comment

    foolinwitu  •  2 hours 25 minutes ago Report Abuse

    He should be more upset that his defense gave up 27.

    13 Replies

  • v1/comments/context/ece68146-8d54-37ca-9db0-96bbc617d156/comment/1359959774694-06704e4c-66b8-4ff2-95d8-efaeae459522

    Matthew

    686users liked this commentPlease sign in to rate a Thumb UpPlease sign in to rate a Thumb Down57users disliked this comment

    Matthew  •  12 hours ago Report Abuse

    I honestly don’t think players and coaches should be forced to do talk to the immediate following a game unless they want to. Of course they’re going to be upset after a loss, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when they lose their cool. That’s exactly what the media wants, which is why nothing will… More

    35 Replies

  • v1/comments/context/ece68146-8d54-37ca-9db0-96bbc617d156/comment/1359959410940-9df38564-8cec-418e-9b44-c9f2e7de6cfa

    ERNLL

    1134users liked this commentPlease sign in to rate a Thumb UpPlease sign in to rate a Thumb Down103users disliked this comment

    ERNLL  •  13 hours ago Report Abuse

    the 49ers had the ball first & goal just under 3 minutes to go in the game 2 time outs left. They have that huge O Line. Yet they threw the ball 4 straight times. Easy to blame the refs. Jim Harbaugh should be blaming POOR PLAY CALLING. It was Smash Mouth Football Time and the 49ers went soft…. More

    45 Replies

  • v1/comments/context/ece68146-8d54-37ca-9db0-96bbc617d156/comment/1359988902479-632459bc-35b0-4693-8f93-a2e97fe9f7b5

    MoneyMen

    603users liked this commentPlease sign in to rate a Thumb UpPlease sign in to rate a Thumb Down60users disliked this comment

    MoneyMen  •  4 hours ago Report Abuse

    4th and goal for the Super Bowl and he calls a fade?!? Worst play call in recent Super Bowl memory.

    35 Replies

  • v1/comments/context/ece68146-8d54-37ca-9db0-96bbc617d156/comment/1359986042532-22d59809-af0c-4497-adbc-02461d061cc7

    Frankie

    920users liked this commentPlease sign in to rate a Thumb UpPlease sign in to rate a Thumb Down99users disliked this comment

    Frankie  •  5 hours ago Report Abuse

    I’m not biased at all and can say there were a lot of no calls that favored both teams, Harbaugh shouldn’t blame the refs when his team didn’t even show up in the first half.

    29 Replies

  • v1/comments/context/ece68146-8d54-37ca-9db0-96bbc617d156/comment/1359973447865-ba12b414-3406-41cb-8f17-0a89e2f93df9

    J R

    3821users liked this commentPlease sign in to rate a Thumb UpPlease sign in to rate a Thumb Down508users disliked this comment

    J R  •  9 hours ago Report Abuse

    Thumbs up if your have had enough of Ray Lewis & happy he’s retiring

    135 Replies

  • v1/comments/context/ece68146-8d54-37ca-9db0-96bbc617d156/comment/1359997057442-742a7474-4103-49a8-8c90-f95c99e87716

    samuelTcollins

    164users liked this commentPlease sign in to rate a Thumb UpPlease sign in to rate a Thumb Down15users disliked this comment

    samuelTcollins  •  2 hours 38 minutes ago Report Abuse

    Two weeks to practice for the game, and on the very first play the 49ers line up wrong???? And their coach blames the loss on the refs?????? I am a 49er fan, but the 49ers were out played, out hustled, and were out coached by the Ravens.

    16 Replies

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