The San Francisco 49ers saw a magical season come to an abrupt end on Sunday against the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game. New York won the game fair and square (save for one very questionable call, which will be touched up on), but the 49ers shot themselves in the foot an awful lot. In other words, they made the game much harder to win than it should have been. It was a situation exacerbated by several circumstances.
What were the main reasons they didn't win the game? Well, obviously they didn't have more points than the other team when the clock ran out. That's the main one (call me "John Madden"), but what things just broke down and put this game out of reach?
Kyle Williams made several errors on special teams that cost 'em, there's no escaping that. He's a very promising wide receiver prospect and he has the unshakable support of his 49ers teammates, but there's no getting away from the fact that he made two incredibly costly errors on special teams. If he's not going to field the punt, he should get out of the way, and in overtime in those conditions, he should have called a fair catch.
The blown fumble call where Ahmad Bradshaw was given the early whistle at first contact, or virtually first contact. It would have given the 49ers the ball back in field goal range. Instead, the referee blew the whistle way too early and it was ruled that his forward progress was stopped.
Greg Roman and the 49ers play-calling struggled mightily. It's not necessarily that Roman didn't run the ball while the 49ers were doing it well, it was the fact that the runs called had little chance of success. They ran Gore from the shotgun and ran multiple sweeps. On what plane of existence is the shotgun run the go-to run? They had personnel in that was tipping them off to a run, on top of that. Which eliminates everything that is good about the shotgun run: surprise. There were multiple drives in which the 49ers ran the same pass play followed by the same shotgun run. Any defense could stop that.