Early in the second quarter, rookie LaMichael James made a 25-yard run in which he spun twice before losing the ball. And safety Donte Whitner received a 15-yard facemask penalty to give the Ravens first-and-goal on the 4. Flacco found Dennis Pitta for a 1-yard score two plays later.
Kaepernick wound up 16 for 28 for 302 yards with three sacks and an interception for a 91.7 passer rating in his outstanding Super Bowl debut. The interception was the first by the 49ers in six Super Bowls and ended a streak at 169 passes without one.
Kaepernick also rushed for 62 yards, joining Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks to pass for 300 yards and run for 50 in a Super Bowl. Kaepernick recorded the fourth 300-yard passing performance by the 49ers in the Super Bowl — Montana had two and Young one.
The 25-year-old completed 8 of 13 first-half passes, was sacked twice and threw an interception as San Francisco fell behind 21-6.
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.
On Sunday, 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," 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."
The 49ers were hoping for their own downtown victory parade and to have the World Series champion Giants take part after Harbaugh and quarterback Alex Smith drove in the San Francisco baseball team's parade last fall.
San Francisco would have become the first market to win a World Series and Super Bowl in the same season since the Boston Red Sox accomplished it in 2004 and the New England Patriots followed suit in February 2005.
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