Matt & Mindi: The final four plays cost 49ers the game
Anquan Boldin caught six passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
NEW ORLEANS -- The 49ers played an imperfect brand of football for too long Sunday evening, and the lights were shut off on the franchise's perfect Super Bowl record.
John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens were prepared and executed in every facet of Super Bowl XLVII for a little more than a half.
And that was enough cushion for the Ravens to withstand a furious 49ers comeback attempt for a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers and his younger brother Jim at the Superdome.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was named Super Bowl XLVII MVP, completing 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns.
There would be no historic 49ers comeback -- no "Drive," no "Catch" and no "Comeback".
Trailing by five points, the 49ers took over at their own 20-yard line with 4 minutes, 19 seconds remaining. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who helped rally the 49ers back from a 22-point deficit, had three straight pass attempts for Michael Crabtree along the right side fall incomplete.
On fourth down, Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith grabbed Crabtree near the line of scrimmage as Kaepernick lofted a pass to avoid a blitz. The ball fell incomplete, and Jim Harbaugh complained loudly that a penalty should've been called.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh: "No question in my mind there was a pass interference and a hold on Michael Crabtree on that last one."— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) February 4, 2013
The 49ers put themselves in position to pull off the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history when running back Frank Gore and Kaepernick gained eight yards on back-to-back runs. Kaepernick hit Michael Crabtree for 24 yards, and Gore came back with a 33-yard run to the Baltimore 7-yard line.
But three consecutive incomplete passes spoiled the 49ers' bid for the franchise's sixth Super Bowl title. Ravens punter Sam Koch took a safety that ran off seven seconds. Baltimore had a free kick from the 20-yard line with :04 remaining. Return man Ted Ginn returned the kick 31 yards, but was tackled as time expired.
Kaepernick's final stat line: 16-for-28, 302 yards passing, one passing touchdown, an interception, 62 rushing yards, and a 15-yard touchdown run.
Crabtree was targeted a game-high 10 times, catching five passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Vernon Davis caught six passes for 104 yards, and Frank Gore rushed for 110 yards.
Somehow, the 49ers had a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers, a 100-yard rusher and still lost the game.
The Ravens never trailed and they had firm command of the game until a power outage seemed to swing the momentum of the game.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco was nearly flawless and Jacoby Jones sprinted past the 49ers for two long touchdowns in building a 22-point lead early in the third quarter.
Just moments after Jones returned the opening kickoff of the second half an NFL-record-tying 108 yards for a touchdown, a power outage at the Superdome knocked out the lights at the 70,000-seat venue.
The game was delayed 34 minutes. And the 49ers immediately seized momentum after the lights came back on.
Kaepernick rallied the 49ers to within two points, 31-29, with a 15-yard touchdown run -- the longest by a quarterback in Super Bowl history with 9:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
However, Kaepernick's pass sailed over Randy Moss in the end zone for a failed two-point conversion attempt. Justin Tucker hit a 38-yard field goal to extend the Ravens' lead to 34-29.
And the 49ers' final comeback attempt stalled at the Ravens' 5-yard line.
The journey ended for the 49ers one victory shy of their goal of hoisting the franchise's sixth Lombardi Trophy.
The 49ers ride to the NFC Championship was powered by memories of their overtime loss to the New York Giants for a trip to the Super Bowl a year ago, a stout defense, a strong running game and the explosive play of Kaepernick.
But nothing went right for the 49ers for the first 30 minutes, 11 seconds of action, beginning with their first offensive play of the game when a 20-yard pass play was nullified by a penalty.
Kaepernick's 20-yard pass attempt to tight end Vernon Davis was called back due to Davis' penalty for illegal formation. The 49ers' offense went three-and-out.
The Ravens blasted out to a 28-6 lead just 11 seconds into the second half on Jones' 108-yard kickoff return.
Things did not go well from the beginning for the 49ers.
And every time the 49ers touched the ball for the rest of the game, they were playing from behind.
That's familiar territory early in the game when the Ravens drove 51 yards for a touchdown on their opening drive. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks was called for offsides on a third-down incompletion to give Flacco another chance.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin found space against the 49ers' zone defense, as linebacker NaVorro Bowman did not drop deep enough and safety Donte Whitner got there too late to prevent Boldin's 13-yard touchdown reception with 10:36 remaining in the first quarter.
After the 49ers settled for David Akers' 36-yard field goal in the first quarter, the offense drove 56 yards on four plays before LaMichael James turned the ball over to the Ravens on a fumble at the Baltimore 25.
The Ravens cut through the 49ers' defense on a 75-yard drive that was capped by Dennis Pitta's 1-yard touchdown catch from Flacco to give Baltimore a 14-3 lead.
The 49ers surrendered a third Flacco touchdown pass late in the half when cornerback Chris Culliver, who found himself in the center of a Super Bowl-week controversy after homophobic comments, gave up a 56-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones with 1:45 remaining in the half.
Jones went to the ground after the catching the ball inside the 10-yard line, but Culliver did not touch him while he was down, and Dashon Goldson, who came from the other side of the field, overran Jones after he got to his feet.
The 49ers settled for their second Akers field goal, which came on the final snap of the first half, when their drive stalled at the Baltimore 9-yard line.
The 49ers nearly made history -- in a big way.
Ten points is the largest deficit overcome in Super Bowl history. It happened twice. Washington fell behind Denver 10-0 in Super Bowl XXII, and won 42-10. And in Super Bowl XLIV, New Orleans was also down 10-0, and came back for a 31-17 victory over Indianapolis.
In the end, the 49ers came up short -- one step further than last season when the 49ers lost in the NFC Championship Game in Jim Harbaugh's first season.
But one victory short of the franchise maintaining its perfect Super Bowl record.