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SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s mind was made up before the 49ers’ snap of the season. He was going to throw the ball to Michael Crabtree.
On Tuesday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Kaepernick made the right decision to challenge Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.
“Pre-snap decisions are made based on the route call, the matchup, coverage,” Harbaugh said. “That does happen on certain pass plays.”
Was that play one of those situations?
“Yes,” Harbaugh said.
Did Kaepernick make the correct pre-snap read?
“Yes,” Harbaugh answered.
Sherman batted away the pass for Crabtree in the corner of the end zone, resulting in linebacker Malcolm Smith's game-clinching interception in the Seahawks' 23-17 victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
Kaepernick rushed for a game-high 130 yards. Kaepernick completed 14 of 24 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. But he also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble – when Cliff Avril beat right tackle Anthony Davis for a sack – in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Afterward, Kaepernick took full responsibility for the loss.
“I didn’t play good enough to win,” Kaepernick said. “I turned the ball over three times. I cost us this game.”
Harbaugh disagreed strongly with Kaepernick’s self-assessment, but appreciated his quarterback “taking the mantle.”
“That’s not accurate. I thought Colin played his ass off. I thought all the players in the game did.
“I thought he played fabulous. I really did. There are things that happened on both sides of the ball, special teams. You can point to a lot of areas. I really feel the players really acquitted themselves as well as they could, both sides of the ball, both teams.”