San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, seen here in the heat of action during the fourth quarter, was upset over the officiating in the Super Bowl loss to his brother John and the Baltimore Ravens.
NEW ORLEANS — For the two weeks since their teams earned the right to play in Super Bowl XLVII, brothers Jim and John Harbaugh knew the bitter reality: Someone was leaving New Orleans a loser.
While elder John and his Baltimore Ravens get to spend a night on Bourbon Street partying with Lombardi, Jim’s 49ers swallow a painful loss, the first in San Francisco’s six trips to the Super Bowl.
The lesson Sunday was that in a battle between brothers, it’s easier for the victor to be gracious.
“There is no greater coach or competitor in the National Football League than Jim Harbaugh,” John Harbaugh said. “The way the team played proves it. What they have done the last two years is unprecedented. They showed it (Sunday), the way they battled back and fought right to the end. That is who he is and who they are. I could not be more proud of him and what he has done.”
The two shared an embrace on the field when the game ended, and John said he told Jim he loved him and was proud of him.
And what’d Jim say?
“I think the same thing,” Jim said.
The San Francisco coach began his postgame conference with a tip of the cap, but before long, he ordered sour grapes with whine.
“We want to handle this with class and grace,” Jim Harbaugh said, only to do anything but that. “We competed and we battled to win. Yes, there’s no question in my mind that there was a pass interference and then a hold on (Michael) Crabtree on the last one.”
The questions that followed:
Q: Can you talk about Colin Kaepernick’s performance?
A: “I think he was making good throws the entire game. There was one that got a little high (an Ed Reed interception thrown over Randy Moss’ head). Again, in my opinion, that series should have continued.”
Q: What did you see on the Chris Culliver pass interference call?
A: “The interference on Chris? Didn’t think that was an interference (penalty). You’re talking about the one that extended their drive when they made their second-to-last drive with the ball? Didn’t see that as …”
A reporter also asked Jim Harbaugh about the Ravens taking a safety, a play on which they were able to take eight seconds off the clock when punter Sam Koch ran untouched and the 49ers looked to be unable to find the ball.
Harbaugh said: “Still haven’t gotten an explanation on the safety. It was obviously the intent of the Ravens to tackle and hold (oncoming defenders), but not one holding flag came out. It’s a good scheme on their part to hold as many people as they can and you teach them just to tackle when you’re taking a safety like that — but not one holding penalty was called. I haven’t gotten an explanation.”