The 49ers’ Quest for Six came up just short in Super Bowl XLVII Sunday night, but Colin Kaepernick cemented his status as a superstar in the making.
The young San Francisco quarterback, in just his 10th NFL start, almost led his team to a comeback victory over the Ravens in New Orleans – rallying his team from a 22-point deficit – before the 49ers fell, 34-31.
Though he made several mistakes early, Kaepernick threw for one TD and ran for another in the second half after a power outage of 34 minutes seemed to change the momentum of the game.
Kaepernick’s 15-yard TD run – the longest TD run by a quarterback in Super Bowl history – with just over 51/2 minutes remaining brought the 49ers back within two points of the Ravens, but San Francisco’s two-point conversion failed.
The Ravens then tacked on a field goal and held the 49ers on third- and fourth-and-goal from the 5 with less than two minutes remaining to seal the victory.
The Ravens gave up a safety to help run down the clock at the end of the game to create the final three-point margin of defeat.
Baltimore dominated the early going, and Kaepernick seemed to lose his rhythm in the late first quarter and up until halftime.
He was intercepted once, failed to throw to an open Michael Crabtree in the end zone near the end of the half and double-pumped on a couple of his throws, as if he were a bit gun-shy after throwing one interception and another near-pick later.
In the second half, however -- after the Ravens opened by taking a 28-6 lead on Jacoby Jones’ 108-yard kickoff return –the momentum changed.
First, about half the power went out in the stadium for 34 minutes. Then, Kaepernick and the 49ers offense started clicking and the San Francisco defense stiffened.
Once the game resumed, Kaepernick hit Crabtree on a 31-yard scoring pass, then led another drive that ended in Frank Gore’s 6-yard TD run. David Akers’ 34-yard field goal and Kaepernick’s TD sprint seemed to signal a historic comeback was in the making.
Though the rally fell short, Kaepernick’s combination of strong arm, resiliency and running ability showed once again that the 49ers are set for years to come with one of the NFL’s best playmakers at quarterback.
For the game, Kaepernick completed 16-of-28 passes for 302 yards and rushed seven times for 62 yards.
All game long, CBS analyst Phil Simms – a former Super Bowl MVP quarterback of the Giants – raved about Kaepernick’s talents, which the second-year player from Nevada displayed once he became the team’s starter in November.
As Kaepernick told the media this week in New Orleans, he feels he needs to make the most of his opportunity. He knows he’s been blessed with talent and the chance to play on a star-studded team with an excellent coach.
Among the many tattoos he has, he pointed out the one on his right shoulder this week in talking about the chance to lead his team in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
The tattoo is from Psalm 18:39.
“The verse says, ‘You arm me with strength for battle,’ ” Kaepernick said. “Basically it’s saying, the Lord has given me all the tools to be successful. I just have to go out there and do my part.”
In the NFC Championship Game, he led his team to a win after trailing by 17. Sunday night, he led his team back from a 22-point deficit, only to fall just short.
For Kaepernick, this season and the Super Bowl are just the first chapter in what could be a very long, successful story.