SF 49ers: 10 most painful playoff losses in franchise history

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Richard Sherman, Michael Crabtree, Seattle Seahawks, SF 49ers
Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks and wide receiver Michael Crabtree #15 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

No. 3: SF 49ers 2014 NFC Championship loss to Seahawks

Final Score: Seahawks 23, SF 49ers 17

The Niners haven’t had too much luck with fade passes in the playoffs, and the 2014 NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks is yet again one of those painful examples of why.

Much like Super Bowl XLVII the season before, this particular interdivisional bout was an instant classic. These were two powerhouse teams expected to compete for a Super Bowl, and the winner was likely to defensively dominate the AFC champions, the Denver Broncos, in Super Bowl XLVIII.

It was a back-and-forth contest, too, with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson dueling it out with Colin Kaepernick. San Francisco got out to a 10-0 early lead, thanks to a Wilson fumble, yet Seattle stormed back to tie the game early in the third quarter. Then, Kaepernick hit wide receiver Anquan Boldin in the end zone in what seemed to be a key go-ahead touchdown to make things 17-10.

Unfortunately, those moments aren’t why this game is infamous.

Momentum turned when linebacker NaVorro Bowman suffered a gruesome injury on a goal-line stand. But the SF 49ers still had a chance to win late.

Except for another Kap fade pass to Michael Crabtree didn’t connect. No, and this time it was deflected by cornerback Richard Sherman and into the waiting arms of Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith.

But the final memory, and what puts this game all the way up at No. 3 on the list of all-time heartbreaks, was Sherman’s postgame rant about Crabtree.

At least Sherman switched ranks later in his career, but that interview with Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews made him Niners public enemy No. 1, and it was made all that worse with Seahawks fans rubbing it in over the following seasons.