The 49ers Lost Because Their Pass defence Mysteriously Collapsed In The Playoffs

chris culliver super bowl

Photo: Getty Images

Even though Colin Kaepernick is catching flack for his first-half jitters in the Super Bowl, the 49ers defence — the secondary specifically — was the real reason why they lost last night.

Joe Flacco completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and 3 TDs. He didn’t just dink and dunk San Francisco to death, he supplemented his short passes with a handful of back-breaking deep balls. He was getting anything he wanted.

We probably should have seen it coming.

The 49ers’ secondary got sliced up by Matt Ryan in the first half of the NFC title game, and gave up 31 points to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round.

ESPN Stats & Info had an eye-popping stat about the collapse of the 49ers’ secondary this morning:

“Including the Super Bowl, the 49ers allowed five touchdowns and a 67.5 completion percentage on passes more than 10 yards down field in the postseason. In the regular season, the 49ers allowed only three touchdowns (fewest) on those throws and a 38.7 completion percentage (third best).”

So the 49ers’ secondary was basically twice as bad in the playoffs as they were in the regular season.

Chris Culliver — the 49ers cornerback who made anti-gay statements during Super Bowl week — was one of the main culprits. He got beat by Anquan Boldin a bunch, and let Jacoby Jones run right by him on this TD pass:

jacoby jones td

Photo: Big Lead

The 49ers’ defence gave up 29.7 points per game in the playoffs, compared to 17.1 points per game in the regular season.

The 49ers’ offence scored 34.7 points per game in the playoffs, compared to 24.8 points per game in the regular season.

The offence got better, but the defence fell apart, and that’s why they lost.

But how does a secondary suddenly fall apart?

There’s no definitive answers. They didn’t have any significant injuries, and you typically don’t see an entire unit of a team suddenly go into a slump at once.

One theory is that the 49ers’ pass rush is actually to blame. Aldon Smith — the league’s second-leading pass rusher — didn’t have a single sack in the playoffs, and defensive lineman Justin Smith has been playing hurt.

But the pass rush actually wasn’t that bad last night. They sacked Flacco only twice, but they knocked him down on seven of his 33 pass attempts. That’s not a terrible percentage.

So there isn’t a definitive reason why the 49ers suddenly couldn’t cover anyone. All we know is that was the real reason they lost last night.

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