|49ers coach Jim Harbaugh pleads his case with officials in the fourth quarter Sunday. (US Presswire)|
NEW ORLEANS -- San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh started by saying he wanted to handle the 49ers' 34-31 loss to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII with class and grace. Then he proceeded to rip the officials for several bad calls he thought helped determine the outcome, including the incomplete pass Colin Kaepernick threw in the direction of receiver Michael Crabtree on fourth-and-goal from the 5 with less than two minutes left.
“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.”
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Kaepernick, feeling pressure, threw the ball out the back of the end zone on the play, but Harbaugh did not address whether the pass was catchable.
He also said he thought Crabtree was held on second-and-goal when Kaepernick rolled to his right and threw incomplete, but the non-interference calls were not his only beef. He wondered why the officials had not thrown a flag when the Ravens intentionally held the 49ers before punter Sam Koch ran out of the end zone for a safety with four seconds left. (The result would not have changed -- holding in the end zone is an automatic safety but the clock doesn't stop until the end of the play anyway.)
He disputed an interference call on cornerback Chris Culliver that gave Baltimore a third-down conversion to start a drive that ended in a field goal that gave the Ravens a 34-29 lead with 4:19 left. In the first half, he yelled and gestured at the referees when they did not call offensive pass interference on Ravens receiver Torrey Smith as he prevented an interception on a well-covered deep ball.
Asked what Harbaugh had said when he addressed the team after the game, offensive tackle Joe Staley said he mentioned the bad calls first before saying he was proud of the team.
Baltimore cornerback Corey Graham disputed Harbaugh's analysis.
“The referees allowed us (the defensive backs) to play the whole day,” he said. “There was a lot of physical play on both sides. Neither team had an advantage.”