It's not very likely that you would describe Century Link field as quiet, but that was exactly the atmosphere you found in the 49ers locker room after another bitter end to a long, but successful season. It doesn't feel like a winning season so soon after a loss, but that is the unchanging yet seemingly contradictory fact. There is not much to be said in defeat, only many things to meditate on.
For the second straight post-season, the golden legs of Colin Kaepernick carried the team to victories, and yet for the second straight post-season, it was an arm-turned-lead that led to defeat. There is no blame to place here, only a realization that neither Kaepernick nor the other playmakers on this team did enough to pull out the win. Colin did what he knew to do and that was lean on his skills and athleticism, doing all he physically could to will the 49ers to a win. It was simply not enough. Now he has to face another long off-season and I hope that this is the singular burning lesson in his mind:
Talent, skill and physical prowess is not always enough.
For Colin to take himself and his team to the next level, he now must grow internally and not just outwardly. He is the hardest worker on the team, but now what he needs to work on is the mental aspect of his game. Joe Montana knew this from experience and said as much. Kaepernick has to learn to make better reads, learn to process risk/reward scenarios better. He must learn to use his brain in tandem with his outstanding physical gifts.
How many times have we seen him force a throw into his receivers, in spite of tight or double coverage, trusting that his arm was strong and accurate enough to get it past the defender? When the opposing defender was not good enough to make a play on the ball, the result was a spectacular completion. But in this game, the defenders were top notch and what would normally be a positive play morphed into turnovers. Kaepernick didn't play or throw any differently, but because the level of competition was higher, the results were disastrous.
Yet it is not all bad. In a season and half of development, Colin was able to take his team to two Conference Championships. When he learns to combine his inner game with his outer one, there is literally no limit to how far he can go. If Baalke and Harbaugh keep surrounding him with appropriate playmakers, it will not be long before he will raise Lombardi trophies. I look forward to it.
49ers struggle to reach full potential (CSN Bay Area)
Bitter end: 49ers fall to Seahawks (Branch)
This play epitomized how subpar the officiating was for this game and all season long. | Seattle fumble helps NFL avoid major P.R. problem (PFT)
But hopefully it will get better next season. | Competition Committee will consider Bowman play in offseason (PFT)
The 49ers defense never backed down all season and was the model of excellence and consistency. | Thompson: 49ers defense shows fight even after Bowman injury (SJMN)
Transcript of Harbaugh's post-game interview. | Harbaugh: ‘If that goes about an inch or two (more), Crabtree catches it for a touchdown and we win' (Inman)
Classless. | Sherman goes off on Crabtree (PFT)
You can bet that Crabtree can't wait to face Sherman again next season. Chip-on-shoulder. | Michael Crabtree to Sherman: You made 'one play' (NFL)