Late in Sunday's game against the Panthers, Colin Kaepernick escaped the pocket and took off down field for a 16-yard gain. When a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on the Panthers was tacked on, it seemed like the spark the 49ers bedraggled offense needed to topple Carolina once and for all.
But on the next play, receiver Anquan Boldin was called for a false start, one of numerous first-down mistakes the 49ers were unable to overcome in the 10-9 loss. Four sacks of Colin Kaepernick also occurred on first down, one of the reasons the 49ers only were able to convert two, third-down scenarios during the game.
"Too many negative plays -- loss of yardage plays, penalties, sack, turnover -- that we've got to get better at," Jim Harbaugh said Monday. "We didn't do a good enough job."
That, however, was as far as Harbaugh was willing to go when it came to laying blame. The 49ers coach never criticizes a player or an assistant and refused to do so whether it was backup tight end Vance McDonald failing to haul in a deep pass or offensive coordinator Greg Roman's play selection.
"Not going to go through, dissect position by position, raking anybody over the coals," Harbaugh said. "I don't think that's the best thing for us. We have a tough game coming up. We're not going to wallow in it. We're going to move on to New Orleans."
Harbaugh specifically was asked about Kaepernick, who had perhaps his roughest outing as a 49er starter. He was sacked a career-high six times total, completed just half of his passes and his longest completion of the day was a modest 14 yards. The 16-yard scramble, combined with the 15-yard penalty, at the end of the third quarter was the 49ers' longest play of the game.