Colin Kaepernick has less than a full season of starting experience under his belt, but the San Francisco 49ers quarterback is already acting like a leader. Despite strong play throughout the playoffs, he was willing to take the heat for the Super Bowl defeat.
"I feel like I made too many mistakes for us to win," Kaepernick said, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.
He also mentioned the team's feeling as San Francisco was driving to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, saying, "I think that last drive when we got the ball and had time to go down and score a touchdown, we thought it was our game."
Of course, the 49ers weren't able to convert on that drive, and the Baltimore Ravens secured the Lombardi Trophy. The non-call in the corner of the end zone on fourth down, which could have been holding or pass interference, will be debated for weeks, but the result will remain the same.
Although there are a couple throws Kaepernick would like back, including the interception by Ed Reed that sailed high, it's hard to pin the blame on him. He still had a strong game overall against a defense that was clearly ready for the Pistol formation after two weeks of preparation.
The second-year quarterback's emergence is the main reason why the 49ers reached the title game to begin with. He transformed the offense from serviceable to explosive, establishing himself as a rising star in the process.
There's plenty of blame to go around for San Francisco, starting with a secondary that allowed too many key plays and conversions to Joe Flacco and Co.
But all good leaders are willing to take the fall for their teammates. Kaepernick did, and he deserves credit for it both inside and outside the locker room.
It will probably take a couple days for 49ers fans to recover from the loss, especially after fighting back to within five yards of the lead. But there's still plenty to be excited about from this season.
And it all starts with Kaepernick, even if you want to pin the final loss on him like he did himself.