SAN FRANCISCO -- After the celebration on the field for the NFC Championship, Justin Tuck walked down the tunnel to the locker rooms. As he passed me he was singing "Tony Montana", the signature song of the 49ers special teams.
Two fumbles on the 49ers special teams unit gave the Giants 10 points and the conference title. The sound coming out of the 49ers players was much different.
"I'm speechless," rookie running back Kendall Hunter told me in a post game interview. His head coach, Jim Harbaugh, offered up a few more words, but like Hunter, and the rest of the team, couldn't find the answers to what went wrong Sunday night. Here are Harbaugh's comments moments after the game:
Q: What do you tell WR Kyle Williams at a moment like that? Do you console him, what do you say to him?
HARBAUGH: Keep your chin up. We all have things that we wish could have been different and we could have done better. Congratulations to the Giants. Thought they played a heck of a ball game and found a way to win. Tip of the cap to them.
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Q: When you put him back there, what were your instructions, at least for the last punt? Did you want him to be that aggressive with the ball?
HARBAUGH: Yeah. Play football.
Q: You guys really struggled on third downs. What do you attribute that mainly to?
HARBAUGH: Yes we did. Probably a couple of things. Their coverage, their rush. Certainly you look at our execution, probably the calls at the certain times. All those things would contribute to it.
Q: You didnt throw a lot in the first half. Was it because of the conditions or why?
HARBAUGH: What do you define as a lot? Whats a lot to you?
Q: What was it, seven or eight times? Seems like not a lot, seven.
HARBAUGH: It seemed like it went pretty fast in the first half. I dont have an answer for you there. That was not part of the game plan. We were playing football.
Q: Did the conditions influence how you called this game? How you approached it?
HARBAUGH: No, it didnt. We felt like we could operate in it.
Q: Do you feel like you did?
HARBAUGH: Felt like we could.
Q: But did you feel like the weather did impact you guys at all?
HARBAUGH: It was the same both ways.
Q: What did the Giants do to take away your wide receivers in this game?
HARBAUGH: Like I just said a couple minutes ago, a combination of those four things probably.
Q: Even though you didnt reach the Super Bowl, you reached the NFC-Championship in your first year. How do you feel about that, even though you didnt get all the way?
HARBAUGH: Im proud of the way our players played. Im proud of the way they prepared, they worked. They competed. Wasnt there for us today. In a lot of ways, we played well enough to win. We dont come away with it. Itll be a tough one. Itll probably take awhile to get over. But well get over it. This teams not defeated by any stretch of the imagination. A man can be destroyed, but he cant be defeated as long as this team knows that theres hope.
Q: You had the great run by RB Kendall Hunter, remember the 18-yarder and you got into field goal range. It seemed like after that there was a lot of passing, not the last drive of regulation, but you really started to throw it and less conventional runs. What was your thinking in that?
HARBAUGH: I really dont resonate with the question. Theres a lot there. What are you asking? Why didnt we throw it more? Why didnt we throw it less?
Q: It seemed like you had some good things going in the run game, but late in the game there were a couple shot gun handoff type things but it wasnt just the typical line up and run the ball. Was there a reason for that?
HARBAUGH: Late in the game in regulation? In the two-minute drills?
Q: No, before that. The two times before that and then in OT.
HARBAUGH: Im sure its something well consider and look at. One thing doesnt work, you wish you would have done the other. Its one of the probably four or five of the things that you look at when you dont pull the game out. What could you have done differently? Yeah, something didnt work, you probably would have rather done the other. Doing our best to try to move the ball.
Q: In the fourth quarter there, you want to throw the flag for a replay. They never explained to the crowd. You couldnt throw it because the whistle had blown before the ball came out? Was that it?
HARBAUGH: They said that they had blown it dead.
Q: Did you have a chance to talk to Kyle after the game?
Q: He seemed pretty obviously upset about what happened. What did you say to him?
HARBAUGH: Dont feel the need to share that here.
Q: What did you say to the defense that was on the field a lot, really did a pretty good job of trying to hold this team down? What do you say about their effort and their performance tonight?
HARBAUGH: Great job. I say that to a lot of our players, all of our players. I said that to them after the game. Did a great job competing. They laid it out there. They played their hearts out. Disappointed that you dont come away with the satisfaction of the win.
Q: On the would-be fumble down in your end. What did you see from where you were? You were pretty close to it.
HARBAUGH: It looked like a fumble. Every play that happened in the game except that one was played out to the conclusion of the play.