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49ers headed to Super Bowl after 28-24 victory against Falcons

ATLANTA GA - JANUARY 20:  Running back Frank Gore #21 San Francisco 49ers celebrates after scoring nine-yard touchdown fourth

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 20: Running back Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after scoring a nine-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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the number

5-0 The 49ers’ record in the Super Bowl. A closer look:

XVI: 49ers 26, Bengals 21

Jan. 24, 1982, in Pontiac, Mich.
Highlight: 49ers’ third-quarter goal-line stand.

XIX: 49ers 38, Dolphins 16

Jan. 20, 1985, in Palo Alto, Calif.
Highlight: Joe Montana goes
24-for-35 for 331 yards, 3 TD.

XXIII: 49ers 20, Bengals 16

Jan. 22, 1989, in Miami
Highlight: Montana finds John Taylor for TD with :34 left.

XXIV: 49ers 55, Broncos 10

Jan. 28, 1990, in New Orleans
Highlight: Montana throws five TD passes, three to Jerry Rice.

XXIX: 49ers 49, Chargers 26

Jan. 29, 1995, in Miami
Highlight: Steve Young throws six TDs, two to Ricky Watters.

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ATLANTA — The San Francisco 49ers have plenty of highlights to savor from their 28-24 victory Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome.

But in the visitors’ locker room afterward, 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley said he wanted to see a replay of coach Jim Harbaugh’s reaction after officials upheld a
22-yard catch by Falcons receiver Harry Douglas in the fourth quarter.

‘‘Someone told me about it,’’ Staley said. ‘‘It sounds pretty funny.’’

Harbaugh reacted as though someone smashed him in the stomach with a baseball bat, his right arm splaying up, his headset falling down, his right leg kicking out. He then stomped, screamed and spun around, brushing past line judge Tom Stephan as he headed back toward his sideline.

It was a reaction perhaps more characteristic of his predecessor as the 49ers’ coach, former Bears teammate Mike Singletary. Singletary had his share of incidents,
moments and questionable decisions on his way to posting an 18-22 record as the 49ers’ coach.

Harbaugh, meanwhile, has had the Midas touch so far, winning back-to-back NFC West titles, reaching the NFC title game last season and reaching the Super Bowl this season.

Supporters of Singletary will suggest Harbaugh is benefitting from a roster Singletary shaped and developed. But several 49ers took veiled shots at Singletary.

‘‘We know we had great guys,’’ running back Frank Gore said. ‘‘But when we got the right guys to lead us . . . I mean, coach Harbaugh and his staff do a great job.’’

Despite his colorful reaction to Douglas’ catch, Harbaugh is lauded by his players for his composure and steady attitude.

‘‘He’s just so calm,’’ guard Alex Boone said. ‘‘He never gets rattled, which is just so good for the team. You don’t want a coach over there who is always screaming at everybody.’’

‘‘He’s not the type of coach who talks behind your back,’’ tight end Delanie Walker said. ‘‘He’s always up front.’’

Arguably the boldest decision by an NFL coach this season was Harbaugh’s choice to stick with quarterback Colin Kaepernick after
he dominated the Bears in his first NFL start Nov. 19 on ‘‘Monday Night Football.’’

With Alex Smith sidelined with a concussion, Kaepernick completed 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 32-7 victory. Smith, who had gone 6-2-1 with 13 touchdown passes and only five interceptions in the 49ers’ first nine games, didn’t play again until getting some mop-up duty in the regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals.

‘‘Whatever decisions Jim Harbaugh makes, we go with it,’’
Walker said. ‘‘He said Kap was the guy for us, and we bought into it. And you see it. I guess he is the guy for us.’’

Asked about taking heat for the quarterback switch, Harbaugh
attempted some misdirection.

‘‘I think winning the George
Halas Trophy is a huge accomplishment,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s another flag. You want to get as many trophies
and flags as you can. We said at the start of [the playoffs] there
are three Super Bowls to win. We have won two so far and have one more [Feb. 3].’’

The 49ers can’t imagine following anyone else to Super Bowl
XLVII in New Orleans.

‘‘He’s awesome,’’ Staley said. ‘‘We knew with him coming in, he was going to be different from what we had before. It was all about how we could get better each day. He’s focused on details. His stuff has
really stood out.’’

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