COHN: Loss dents myth of Harbaugh as a great coach

  • San Francisco 49ers' head coach Jim Harbaugh looks to the scoreboard in the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

SEATTLE -- And we're supposed to believe the 49ers are a Super Bowl Contender?

That 42-13 demolition by the Seahawks was as complete a meltdown as you'll see, a meltdown involving a fatal loss of composure, the wheels coming off, the team losing its cool, the full catastrophe.

A metaphor for the whole bad thing — not the cause, a metaphor — occurred near the end of the monstrosity. Offensive lineman Anthony Davis pointlessly went after a Seahawk and knocked him around and got called for a 15-yard penalty. When asked about it later, he resorted to profanity. That's the kind of day it was for the Niners.

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It is hard to think this team is Super Bowl material. And please don't invoke the obvious excuses.

Obvious Excuse No. 1: Justin Smith was hurt. No dice on that one. Players get hurt. Next man up.

Limp Excuse No. 2: The Niners were tired after playing a tough game last week in New England. This one is really embarrassing. Teams are expected to be ready 16 times. It's not too much to ask.

To Jim Harbaugh's credit — and as you'll see in a moment I give him very little credit — he never copped those excuses.

A team with pretensions does not prep for the playoffs by losing like that, although "losing" is so insufficient to describe what happened. The Niners got murdered, they got exposed, and then they got run out of town.

There were many reasons for their defeat, although there was one big reason I'll get to soon. The many reasons include: A kicker who's hardly a kick, a phenom quarterback who wasn't exactly phenomenal. He threw a pick early in the fourth quarter on an end-zone pass to Randy Moss that was so obvious Richard Sherman couldn't help but intercept it. The Seahawks' Russell Wilson out-gunned and out-ran Kaepernick.

Additional causes for the loss: A running game that wouldn't run, a formerly crunching defense that lost its teeth and gummed its way to self-destruction. Conventional wisdom used to be that you can't run on the Niners. Well, you can and should.

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