At approximately 9:40 p.m. Central Standard Time on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, the 47th Super Bowl dreams of San Francisco 49ers fans across the nation ceased to exist, beaten into oblivion by a crushing Ravens offense.
This tragedy came about unexpectedly; a shocking contrast to the Niners’ previously undefeated Super Bowl record, a healthy 5-0. Going into their sixth Super Bowl matchup coming off of an 11-4-1 regular season record, they were the clear favorite to win.
The first sign of weakness, however, came with 10:36 left in the first quarter as Baltimore’s Joe Flacco found Anquan Boldin for the first touchdown of the game. After that, symptoms started popping up like Jim Harbaugh’s neck vein when screaming furiously at the officials.
Between a catastrophic fumble, the first interception ever thrown by a 49ers quarterback in a Super Bowl game and two more Ravens touchdowns, San Francisco was flailing by the end of the first half with a 21-6 deficit.
The second half didn’t start any better — not surprising since Beyoncé’s halftime set list included “End of Time.” Baltimore’s 108-yard kick return touchdown seemed to hammer home the 49ers’ fate.
And then, after a 34-minute power outage, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a comeback. 17 unanswered points lured Niners fans into a false sense of security. The recovery was cut short as San Francisco’s energy short-circuited (pun intended); a failure to follow up another 15-yard touchdown with a two-point conversion left the score at 31-29, Ravens.
With about two minutes left in the game: another surge of life. On fourth and goal from the five-yard line, with the score at 34-29, this was the best chance at a miracle recovery for the 49ers. But then, the fatal choke: Kaepernick overthrew Michael Crabtree, throwing away the last lifeline. After taking a safety with four seconds remaining, the Ravens gave the ball back to the Niners for one last bucket list play.
As Ted Ginn Jr. started to run on the return, the last light drained from the 49ers fans’ eyes. Despite suffering a 34-31 loss, the 2013 San Francisco Super Bowl team will be fondly remembered for its last attempt to cling to an undefeated legacy, illustrating a stunning second-half comeback that fell just short of a Lifetime movie special.
Members of Niners Nation, as you take the next couple weeks to mourn, just remember the highlight reels of this season. It’s what Harbaugh would have wanted.