|The fourth-down pass intended for Crabtree falls incomplete. (Getty Images)|
NEW ORLEANS -- Whenever things get close in a game as big as the Super Bowl, you're almost guaranteed to see things get a little hairy with the refereeing late in the game. There's a case to be made that the refs missed some calls late in the game and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh would very much like to do that.
"No question in my mind there was a pass interference and a hold on Michael Crabtree on that last one," Harbaugh said in his postgame press conference.
Here's said play in GIF form:
Harbaugh might have a case here; Jimmy Smith was all over Crabtree early on. But there wasn't a flag thrown and it doesn't help that Smith fell down, either. But that wasn't the only play that irked Harbaugh.
He thought that a pass-interference penalty on 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver on a third down in the fourth quarter -- just after the 49ers pulled within two points of Baltimore -- was too aggressive.
"The interference on Chris? Didn't think that was an interference," Harbaugh said after the game. "You're talking about the one that extended their drive when they made their second-to-last drive with the ball? Didn't see that as [interference]."
Culliver was even more direct, saying that "the referees see what they want to see."
And then there was the Ravens' final play, in which the Baltimore special teams unit (apparently on purpose) held the 49ers defenders as much as possible in order to maximize the amount of time that ran off the clock before Sam Koch took an intentional safety.
They ended up burning eight seconds, and Harbaugh wasn't happy about it.
"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."
I mean, clearly. But there were some pretty blatant holds. The only issue is that a hold would've been a safety anyway, so it's not like Jim was going to get anything extra out of it. Either way, he was getting the ball back with limited time on the clock.
It's not surprising that Harbaugh let it be known he didn't like the way the refs handled the end of the game. But that's mainly because the end of the game didn't produce the outcome he wanted.