SEATTLE — Maybe Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree will get this right at some ultimate point, though you do have to wonder.
In 49ers lore, there is Montana to Clark, the connection for the ages.
And now: Kaepernick to Crabtree ... the disconnection for the last two season-ending losses.
Maybe, in the wake of the 49ers' gut-shot 23-17 loss to Seattle on Sunday in the NFC Championship game, even Kaepernick and Crabtree have to start wondering about this, too.
The 49ers keep trying — when the season is on the line, Kaepernick to Crabtree becomes everything and the only thing the 49ers offense can or wants to do.
On Sunday, for the second consecutive postseason, the 49ers were eliminated when Kaepernick tried to throw it to Crabtree, and it failed.
“Had a one-on-one matchup with Crab,” Kaepernick said of his pass for Crabtree, which was tipped and intercepted, sealing Seattle's victory.
“I'll take that every time.”
Even against All-Pro Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman — the man who cut in front of Crabtree on Sunday and tipped the ball to linebacker Malcolm Smith in the end zone?
“Against anyone,” Kaepernick said.
This was a weird and painful echo of last season's 49ers Super Bowl loss, when Kaepernick tried to find Crabtree in the end zone multiple times against Baltimore in the last minute.
And you could tell Sunday evening that this is the last thing Kaepernick ever thought he'd experience.
In this game, Kaepernick took off for several enormous runs to help the 49ers jump ahead of their bitter rivals 10-0 early and then 17-10 late amid all the sound and thunder of CenturyLink Field.
Then Seattle came back and charged ahead as Kaepernick lost a fumble and threw two interceptions — all in the fourth quarter.
The final one came after he drove the 49ers to the Seattle 18-yard line with less than a minute left, down six, then spotted Crabtree vs. Sherman and fired.
Game over, but not in the way the 49ers had hoped.
With those early runs (Kaepernick finished with 11 carries for 130 yards) and a few great throws, Kaepernick was about to redeem himself after several poor previous outings in Seattle.
And then, in the fourth quarter, he just repeated those miserable performances at the worst time possible.
“I didn't play good enough to win — turned the ball over three times,” Kaepernick said. “I cost us this game.”
That's assuredly a bit of an overstatement, but Kaepernick also is right:
At the most important moments, when the 49ers could've punched their return ticket to the Super Bowl, Kaepernick's turnovers were killers.
He has had two chances to win at the end of playoff games, and now he has stumbled both times.
That doesn't mean he won't eventually start making those plays and winning these games — without his running, the 49ers probably would've lost this game by a lot more than six points.
He has won more road playoff games in two postseasons than Joe Montana and Steve Young won in their entire careers.
But Kaepernick's decisions and his errant throws at the end do raise a question: How long will the 49ers have to wait — and how many chances will be wasted — while he figures this out?
“I think he played great all night,” receiver Anquan Boldin said of Kaepernick, who completed 14 of 24 attempts for 153 yards and a touchdown, with the two interceptions.
“Obviously, we had the turnovers. Wish we can take those back, but other than that, he played a great game.”
But Kaepernick also threw the interception when the 49ers desperately needed a touchdown.
Kaepernick said he was going to throw it to Crabtree from the moment he saw that Sherman was in one-on-one coverage.
And while Sherman cackled afterward that Crabtree was a “mediocre” receiver, the 49ers weren't second-guessing the thought.
“I thought it was a pretty darn well-thrown ball,” coach Jim Harbaugh said of the last pass. “The way I was looking, an inch the other way, it was a touchdown pass.”
Kaepernick said he probably should've thrown it farther to the outside so that only Crabtree could've touched it.
He didn't, it was within Sherman's long grasp, and the 49ers were losers, not winners.
“Sherman made a good play — that's probably the only play the whole game,” said Crabtree, who had four catches for 52 yards.
Crabtree, for his part, wasn't making any comparisons to the failed passes at the end of last season's Super Bowl.
“The last one was out of bounds last year,” Crabtree said of the 49ers' last play in Super Bowl XLVII. “This one was inside — I couldn't make the play. I tried to get inside, couldn't do it.”
Could Kaepernick have thrown it somewhere else?
Boldin, for instance, probably was more open on the play.
But that's not the way Kaepernick read it — and his confidence in Crabtree is both his strength and his downfall at the end of these playoff runs.
“When I saw the matchup,” Kaepernick said, “I thought we were going to score on that play.”
Kaepernick saw what he wanted to see, threw the ball to the end zone exactly when he wanted to, and ...
For the second consecutive season, the 49ers' season ended when a Kaepernick pass to Crabtree failed, and that really isn't a surprise anymore.