Crabtree on final series: 'We should have ran the ball'

Crabtree on final series: 'We should have ran the ball'
March 28, 2013, 6:30 pm
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You can say this or we should've done that, but I say we should've ran the ball a couple of times.
—Michael Crabtree

Even the wide receiver who was targeted on the final three plays of the 49ers' season wanted to see coach Jim Harbaugh or offensive coordinator Greg Roman call a run play.

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree discussed the final sequence of the 49ers' 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII in a podcast with the NFL Network's Rich Eisen, revealing he temporarily lost his vision after a helmet-to-chin hit from Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith on third down.

The 49ers were down by five points and had a first-and-goal situation from the seven-yard line in the closing two minutes. After LaMichael James gained two yards on first down, three consecutive Colin Kaepernick pass attempts for Crabtree fell incomplete.

"You can say this or we should've done that, but I say we should've ran the ball a couple of times," Crabtree said.

It was certainly an eventful three plays for Crabtree. He believes Ravens cornerback Corey Graham interfered with him on the second-down play at the right front pylon.

"(The) second-down play is when I feel like it should've been a flag," Crabtree said.

Crabtree referenced a play earlier in the game in which Carlos Rogers was called for pass interference against Anquan Boldin. He likely meant a fourth-quarter play in which Chris Culliver was called for pass interference against Torrey Smith.

"In my eyes, it was more contact than that," Crabtree said. "We can argue back and forth. But I choose not to do that."

On third down, Jimmy Smith got away with hit in which the crown of his helmet struck Crabtree's chin on an incomplete pass. Crabtree said he lost his vision in the immediate aftermath of the play.

"He hit me all in the face, and I really couldn't see," Crabtree said.

He added, "It's not, like, concussion-like. You get hit in football. You're going to get hit and you're going to feel it and it's going like you can't see. And it's going to feel intense. But it snaps back. It happens all the time in football."

On fourth down, Kaepernick called an audible to a fade route in anticipation of a Ravens blitz. Although Harbaugh complained that Smith committed a penalty on the play, Crabtree never complained.

"He had to get the ball out as fast as he could," Crabtree said. "It was so fast. He signaled a fade and ball came out. . . I thought we had time enough to run the fade. I looked up and the ball was already there because he didn't have any time. I felt real bad about the situation."

Crabtree said the bitter finish to the Super Bowl serves as motivation for the upcoming season.

"Rather than being on the other side and catching the game-winner and ready to do everything, pop champagne in the locker room and do all that (stuff) you do in the Super Bowl," Crabtree said. "Unfortunately, I was on the other end of it. It ain't nothing but motivation to come back next year and do my thing."

Crabtree also spoke about the awkward midseason transition from Alex Smith to Kaepernick.

"You had guys on Alex Smith's side. Guys on Colin Kaepernick's side. I was on the winning side," Crabtree said.

Several veteran players, most notably Joe Staley, were up front about their disappointment that Smith lost his starting position after sustaining a concussion.

"We turn the TV on, it's all on TV," Crabtree said. "We hear it in the locker room, see it at practice. I hate to talk about it, but you had the starting quarterback, then couple games later he's the starting scouting team quarterback, and he's taking all snaps at scout team. It was kind of crazy to see."

But, Crabtree said, "Kap won everybody over by winning."

Crabtree's season took off when Harbaugh settled on Kaepernick as his quarterback.

"He knew what we had around him. We got some talented guys, tight ends, running backs, wide receivers," Crabtree said. "We were loaded. He knew that. 'Listen, bro, we all got your back and we're going to play football.' Kap is a simple dude. He's not too complex like Tom Brady and those kinds of guys. You're either open or not. If you're not open, he'll look at me, 'Crab, go make a play.'"

In 8 1/2 games with Smith at quarterback, Crabtree caught 43 passes for 459 yards and four touchdowns. In 10 1/2 games with Kaepernick, including the postseason, Crabtree had 62 receptions for 931 yards and eight touchdowns.

"It's no secret. I was the same person from Game 1," Crabtree said. "Not to say anyting bad about Alex, but Kap came in firing them. I couldn't do nothing but catch the ball and make some plays.

"Alex Smith was a good guy. He's been through a lot being a San Francisco 49er with all the boos and winning last year, the year before that, he's been through so much. I wish him success with the Chiefs."