Jim Harbaugh says he's proud of the way the 49ers fought back from a… (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press )
John Harbaugh was a bit sheepish about his emotional outbursts at officials in Super Bowl XLVII, but his combustible younger brother said Tuesday he didn't regret his own eruptions of emotions.
"We fight to win," San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh said in his season-capping news conference at 49ers headquarters. "And if you're asking does my personal etiquette need to be changed, more catatonic on the sideline? I don't anticipate that happening."
Jim Harbaugh was particularly upset about a pivotal play at the end of the game, when he felt receiver Michael Crabtree was held by Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith on fourth and goal from the Baltimore five-yard line. Colin Kaepernick's pass fell incomplete, and that ended any realistic chance for the 49ers to win. They lost, 34-31.
Harbaugh said he will be "forever proud" of the way his team battled back from a 22-point deficit to make a game of it and, at one point, be a successful two-point conversion away from a tie.
Faced with that situation, Harbaugh said, "90% of the teams will lose by 40."
He continued: "Our team clawed and competed almost all the way back and didn't lose their faith, didn't lose their will to compete, and that's something you couldn't live with if that happened."
He said players and coaches are seeking some rest and relaxation before beginning to gear up for next season. Among the pressing issues on the agenda are figuring out what to do with backup quarterback Alex Smith; the rehabilitation of defensive tackle Justin Smith, who will undergo surgery this week to repair a partially torn triceps, and striking a long-term deal with safety Dashon Goldson.
The 49ers are also bracing for the possibility of losing one or more assistant coaches, as often happens with successful teams.
"There will be some big decisions by a lot of people, coaches, players, etc." Harbaugh said. "But, one of our strengths is our togetherness. And there's a brotherhood on this team. So we'll strive very hard to keep that going."
Harbaugh reserved his most effusive praise for Kaepernick, whom he called "fantastic in this game" and "fantastic the whole season."
"From the beginning, right to the end, I thought he played extremely well," Harbaugh said. "Coming right out of the box on the first throw [of the Super Bowl, a 20-yard pass to Vernon Davis that was wiped out by a penalty], put it right in there for a big gain, and make big plays the entire game.
"The stage was not too big for him. He competed at the highest level and played extremely well, showed a lot of poise, a lot of leadership throughout the entire game. Can't say enough, really."