In the NFC championship game at Atlanta two weeks ago, such a deficit was no problem. Kaepernick rallied the Niners back from 17-0, while the defense delivered by holding the Falcons scoreless in the second half to win 28-24.
This time, Kaepernick led his team into the end zone for the first time with 7:20 remaining in the third quarter after the power outage when he found Crabtree.
But a stingy San Francisco defense that relied on its ball-hawking, run-stopping play all season, couldn’t consistently slow down Flacco and the high-powered Ravens.
Leading up to the Super Bowl, Kaepernick had handled himself beautifully in hostile environments — beating Drew Brees and the Saints right here in the Superdome on Nov. 25, and later guiding the Niners at New England. And, of course, the win against the Falcons on Jan. 20 that returned San Francisco to the Super Bowl at last.
‘‘I was just sitting there watching Kaep with the ball and knowing that this whole team has trust in him and that he had everything in his hands,’’ defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. ‘‘We just knew that the ball was going in the end zone, through Frank, through Kaep, even getting the ball to Randy (Moss) or Crabtree with the hands he has.’’
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL