Paul Morse / MCT

Paul Morse MCT The Ravens' Jacoby Jones, left, catches a pass over the 49ers' Chris Culliver and turns it into a 56-yard touchdown.

Two 49ers DBs at odds over key touchdown pass

Published: Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 - 2:08 pm

On the biggest play in the first half of the 49ers' 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, the 49ers' secondary clearly wasn't on the same page.

Days later, cornerback Chris Culliver and safety Donte Whitner still weren't.

The Ravens had a third and 10 at their 44-yard line. Quarterback Joe Flacco stepped back, felt the 49ers' pass rush, then stepped forward in the pocket. That's when he saw that wide receiver Jacoby Jones had 10 yards on Culliver. Flacco's 56-yard touchdown pass to Jones put the Ravens ahead by 18 points with 1:45 left in the first half.

Culliver said he thought he had help from Whitner. Culliver was on the outside matched against Jones. Whitner was to his inside, and when Flacco dropped back, Whitner stepped up to help cover the inside receiver, Anquan Boldin.

Should Whitner have gone deep with Jones instead of stepping up on Boldin, Culliver was asked this week?

"Yeah," Culliver said. "Like I said, I don't want to throw nobody under the bus. But I had him, and we wasn't on the same page, so it ends up as a touchdown."

Whitner, however, had a different take. Should he have gone deep with Jones?

"No. No. People don't know," Whitner said. "It's something we call 'pounder' where we're playing man-under (coverage) in a form of quarters where I'm on No. 2 (receiver). Anything that No. 2 does, I'm over him. Then we're playing man to man outside. Our corners did a great job all year of playing this coverage. And it just caught him (Culliver). It just caught him. I don't know.

"Chris is man to man, that was his guy. And the guy just got behind him. The guy is an extremely talented guy. The guy who caught the football … he's extremely fast. I don't know. He'll (Culliver) be better next year. He'll be better covering on the outside next year, and hopefully we don't give up those type of plays. But it's the Super Bowl.

"Coverage goes with rush. And on that play, I don't know if we had the best rush. We definitely didn't have the best coverage. So Flacco was able to step up, throw it deep, and that's exactly what we didn't want all week long."

The Ravens picked on Culliver throughout the game, targeting him seven times in the first half. In addition to the 56-yard pass play, Culliver gave up two 30-yard receptions.

The question is whether the Ravens went after Culliver because they thought he'd be wobbly after a week of scrutiny stemming from his derogatory comments about gays in the locker room.

The Thursday before the game, Culliver admitted he hadn't slept much as the controversy reached a boil.

As he cleared out his locker Tuesday, he said he wasn't fatigued for the game. He got a full night's sleep the night before, he said. "I was focused."

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