The 49ers lost the Super Bowl 34-31 on Sunday. Here are the grades for the coaches.
Coaching: D. The 49ers got outcoached across the board. Jim Harbaugh did not prepare his team well.
The 49ers were flagged for an illegal formation on the very first play of the game, a mind-boggling feat. The first play of the game is the play they practice dozens of times all week. It is scripted. It is the coach’s responsibility that his players run at least the first play correctly. That’s what practice is for.
Greg Roman made bad play calls all game long. He did not get the ball to Frank Gore enough – Gore finished with just 19 carries. Roman did not get the ball to Gore at all on the 49ers’ final four offensive plays of the game. Roman will never live that down.
Roman’s biggest failures happened on the two-point conversion attempt and the 49ers’ last offensive play of the game — fourth-and-goal from the five. On both plays, the Ravens’ brought an all-out blitz. Roman did not anticipate them with any mental dexterity. Those blitzes are pure Ravens football and have been part of their philosophy for over a decade. The Ravens are not going to play coverage and allow the quarterback to sit back in a rocking chair and make a throw at his leisure. Roman should have prepared the offense for those blitzes. Was he even aware of them?
On the 49ers’ final offensive snap, Roman should have aligned the offense in his desired formation, used a dummy cadence and then taken his final timeout once the Ravens declared what they were going to do.
That’s basic sports strategy. They do this in basketball all the time when there is a critical inbounds play. The team with the ball sets up and sees what the defense is going to do, and then calls a timeout and goes to the bench with all five players and the coach breaks out the chalk and the board and diagrams what he wants.
If the 49ers had taken the timeout, they would have been able to utilize a blitz pick-up protection that would have enabled Kaepernick actually to make a real throw and a receiver to run a real route rather than just a desperation heave to the back pylon.
The same thing happened on the two-point conversion attempt. It was a total desperation throw to Randy Moss. There was no concept involved other than a hope and a prayer or begging for a penalty.
I’m focusing on Roman, but finally all calls go through Harbaugh.