‘‘We had other plays called,’’ was Harbaugh’s only explanation.
The 49ers coach was still put out after the game, upset that there wasn’t even one penalty, much less two, called on the team’s final offensive play. Jim Harbaugh claimed receiver Michael Crabtree was both held and interfered with, but with the game on the line he wasn’t going to get either call even if he was right.
The brothers who once battled each other over who would cut the grass at their coaching father’s house both battled as hard as they could to win the game that meant the most. In the end, big brother triumphed, but it came at a price.
John Harbaugh had joked during the week that whoever lost would always have a chance to regain bragging rights on the golf course. But both knew one would be bitterly disappointed, and the other would be feeling some of his brother’s pain.
‘‘It’s a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be,’’ John said. ‘‘It’s very painful.’’
Not nearly as painful, though, as it was for his little brother.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg