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Originally published January 19, 2014 at 10:08 PM | Page modified January 20, 2014 at 9:44 PM

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View from San Francisco: Colin Kaepernick again can’t finish despite dazzling performance

The NFC Championship Game far exceeded expectations, and it was a bitter ending for the 49ers in their bid to return to the Super Bowl.


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Maybe Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree will get this right at some ultimate point, though you do have to wonder.

In 49ers lore, there is Montana to Clark, the connection for the ages.

And now: Kaepernick to Crabtree the... disconnection for last two season-ending losses.

Maybe, in the wake of the 49ers’ gut-shot 23-17 loss to Seattle on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, even Kaepernick and Crabtree have to start wondering about this, too.

The 49ers keep trying. When the 49ers’ season is on the line, Kaepernick to Crabtree becomes everything and the only thing the 49ers offense can or wants to do.

On Sunday, for the second consecutive postseason, the 49ers were eliminated when that connection failed.

“I’ll take that every time,” Kaepernick said of Crabtree’s one-on-one matchup.

Even against All-Pro Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman — the man who cut in front of Crabtree and tipped it to linebacker Malcom Smith in the end zone?

“Against anyone,” Kaepernick said.

This was a weird and painful echo of last season’s 49ers Super Bowl loss, when Kaepernick tried to find Crabtree in the end zone multiple times against Baltimore in the last minute.

And you could tell on Sunday evening that this is the last thing Kaepernick ever thought he’d experience.

Twice.

With several enormous first-half runs (Kaepernick finished with 11 carries for 130 yards) and a few great throws, Kaepernick was about to redeem himself after several poor previous outings in Seattle.

And then, in the fourth quarter, he just repeated those miserable performances at the worst time possible.

“I didn’t play good enough to win — turned the ball over three times,” Kaepernick said. “I cost us this game.”

That’s assuredly a bit of an overstatement, but Kaepernick also is right.

At the most important moments, when the 49ers could’ve punched their return ticket to the Super Bowl, Kaepernick’s turnovers were killers.

He has had two chances to win at the end of playoff games, and now he has stumbled both times.

That doesn’t mean he won’t eventually start making those plays and winning these games — without his running, the 49ers probably would’ve lost this game by a lot more than six points.

He has won more road playoff games in two postseasons than Joe Montana and Steve Young won in their entire careers.

But Kaepernick’s decisions and his errant throws at the end do raise a question: How long will the 49ers have to wait — and how many chances will be wasted — while he figures this out?

“I think he played great all night,” receiver Anquan Boldin said of Kaepernick.

“Obviously we had the turnovers. Wish we can take those back, but other than that, he played a great game.”

But Kaepernick also threw the interception when the 49ers desperately needed a touchdown.

And while Sherman cackled afterward that Crabtree was a “mediocre” receiver, the 49ers weren’t second-guessing the thought.

“I thought it was a pretty darn well-thrown ball,” coach Jim Harbaugh said of the last pass. “The way I was looking, an inch the other way, it was a touchdown pass.”

Crabtree, for his part, wasn’t making any comparisons to the failed passes at the end of last season’s Super Bowl.

“The last one was out of bounds last year,” Crabtree said of the 49ers’ last play in Super Bowl XLVII. “This one was inside. I couldn’t make the play. I tried to get inside — couldn’t do it.”

Could Kaepernick have thrown it somewhere else? Boldin probably was more open on the play.

Kaepernick saw what he wanted to see, threw the ball to the end zone exactly when he wanted to, and...

For the second consecutive season, the 49ers’ season ended when a Kaepernick pass to Crabtree failed, and that really isn’t a surprise any more.



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