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February 7, 2013
Culliver, Whitner don't agree on what went wrong on 56-yard touchdown

cullyfooled.jpg

Two days later, the 49ers secondary still wasn't on the same page.

The biggest play in the first half of the Super Bowl came on third and 10 at the Baltimore 44. Quarterback Joe Flacco stepped back, felt the 49ers pass rush, then stepped forward in the pocket. At that point, he saw that receiver Jacoby Jones had 10 yards on cornerback Chris Culliver. Their 56-yard touchdown connection put the Ravens ahead by 18 points with 1:45 left in the first half.

Culliver on Tuesday said he thought he had help from safety Donte Whitner. Culliver was on the outside matched against Jones. Whitner was to his inside, and when Flacco dropped back, he stepped up to help cover the inside receiver, Anquan Boldin. Should Whitner have gone deep with Jones instead up stepping up on Boldin, Culliver was asked?

"Yeah," he 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 an entirely different take. Should he have gone deep with Jones?

"No. No. People don't know," he 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," Whitner continued. "The guy is 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 didnt 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 undoubtedly picked on Culliver throughout the game, targeting him seven times in the first half alone. In addition to the 56-yard pass play, Culliver also gave up a pair of 30 yarders. The question is whether the Ravens went after Culliver because they knew he'd be wobbly after a week of scrutiny stemming from his 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 on Tuesday, he said that he wasn't fatigued for the game. He got a full night's sleep the night before, he said. "I was focused."

- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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