2012 San Francisco 49ers season
OwnerJed York
General managerTrent Baalke
Head coachJim Harbaugh
Home fieldCandlestick Park
Division place1st NFC West
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (vs. Packers) 45–31
Won NFC Championship (at Falcons) 28–24
Lost Super Bowl XLVII (vs. Ravens) 31–34
Pro Bowlers
AP All-ProsPatrick Willis (1st team)
NaVorro Bowman (1st team)
Justin Smith (2nd team)
Mike Iupati (1st team)
Andy Lee (1st team)
Dashon Goldson (1st team)
Joe Staley (2nd team)
Ahmad Brooks (2nd team)
Aldon Smith (1st team)
49ers uniforms12.png

The 2012 San Francisco 49ers season was the franchise's 63rd season in the National Football League, the 67th overall, the second under the head coach/general manager tandem of Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke, and their penultimate season at Candlestick Park. After going 13–3 and reaching the NFC Championship the year before, the 49ers topped that success with their first NFC championship since 1994 as well as their sixth overall as a franchise, overcoming a 17–0 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 28–24 on January 20, 2013 in the NFC title game. However, the season ended with their first-ever defeat in the Super Bowl, falling to the Baltimore Ravens, 34–31. With that game, the Ravens replaced the 49ers as the only team with multiple appearances to never lose a Super Bowl; they have since been joined by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in this capacity.

This season was also highlighted by the signing of star wide receiver Randy Moss, who had come out of retirement after initially retiring following the 2010 season. As a 49er, Moss appeared in his second Super Bowl but failed to win one again as he previously lost in Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants when he was part of the 2007 New England Patriots.

2012 NFL Draft

Main article: 2012 NFL Draft

San Francisco 49ers 2012 NFL Draft selections
Draft order Player name Position Height Weight College Contract Notes
Round Choice Overall
1 30 30 A. J. Jenkins WR 6'0" 192 lbs. Illinois 4 years
2 29 61 LaMichael James RB 5'8" 194 lbs. Oregon 4 years
3 29 92 Traded to the Indianapolis Colts [a]
4 2 97 Traded to the Miami Dolphins [b] From Colts[a]
8 103 Traded to the Carolina Panthers [c] From Dolphins[b]
22 117 Joe Looney OG 6'3" 309 lbs. Wake Forest 4 years From Lions[d]
30 125 Traded to the Detroit Lions [d]
5 30 165 Darius Fleming OLB 6'2" 245 lbs. Notre Dame 4 years
6 10 180 Trenton Robinson FS 5'10" 195 lbs. Michigan State 4 years From Panthers[c]
26 196 Traded to the Detroit Lions [d] From Dolphins[b]
29 199 Jason Slowey Center 6'3" 303 lbs. Western Oregon Released
7 30 237 Cam Johnson DE 6'3" 268 lbs. Virginia 2 years
^[a] The 49ers acquired this fourth-round selection from the Indianapolis Colts along with a 2013 fifth-round selection in exchange for a 2012 third-round selection (#92 overall; used to select WR T. Y. Hilton).
^[b] The 49ers acquired this fourth-round selection from the Miami Dolphins along with a sixth-round selection (#196 overall) and a 2013 sixth-round selection, in exchange for a 2012 fourth-round selection (#97 overall; used to select RB Lamar Miller).
^[c] The 49ers acquired the sixth-round selection from the Carolina Panthers along with a 2013 third-round selection in exchange for a 2012 fourth-round selection (#103 overall; used to select DE Frank Alexander).
^[d] The 49ers acquired this fourth-round selection from the Detroit Lions in exchange for a 2012 fourth-round selection (#125 overall; used to select LB Ronnell Lewis)and a 2012 sixth-round selection (#196 overall; used to select DB Jonte Green).


2012 San Francisco 49ers staff
Front office

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

  • Assistant head coach/special teams coordinator – Brad Seely
  • Special teams assistant – Tracy Smith

Strength and conditioning

  • Head strength and conditioning – Mark Uyeyama
  • Assistant strength and conditioning – Kevin Tolbert

Final roster

2012 San Francisco 49ers final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics
53 active, 6 inactive, 7 practice squad

Quarterback controversy

Quarterback Alex Smith missed two starts mid-season after suffering a concussion, and backup Colin Kaepernick successfully filled in. A quarterback controversy began. Smith was ranked third in the NFL in passer rating (104.1), led the league in completion percentage (70%), and had been 19–5–1 as a starter under Harbaugh, while Kaepernick was considered more dynamic with his scrambling ability and arm strength.[1][2] After Smith was fully recovered, Harbaugh chose Kaepernick as the starter for the 8–2–1 49ers, but also stated that the assignment was week-to-week and not necessarily permanent.[3] However, Kaepernick started the remainder of the season through Super Bowl XLVII. Smith was traded to Kansas City after the season.[4]

Preseason schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue NFL.com
1 August 10 Minnesota Vikings W 17–6 1–0 Candlestick Park Recap
2 August 18 at Houston Texans L 9–20 1–1 Reliant Stadium Recap
3 August 26 at Denver Broncos W 29–24 2–1 Sports Authority Field at Mile High Recap
4 August 30 San Diego Chargers W 35–3 3–1 Candlestick Park Recap

Regular season schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue NFL.com
1 September 9 at Green Bay Packers W 30–22 1–0 Lambeau Field Recap
2 September 16 Detroit Lions W 27–19 2–0 Candlestick Park Recap
3 September 23 at Minnesota Vikings L 13–24 2–1 Mall of America Field Recap
4 September 30 at New York Jets W 34–0 3–1 MetLife Stadium Recap
5 October 7 Buffalo Bills W 45–3 4–1 Candlestick Park Recap
6 October 14 New York Giants L 3–26 4–2 Candlestick Park Recap
7 October 18 Seattle Seahawks W 13–6 5–2 Candlestick Park Recap
8 October 29 at Arizona Cardinals W 24–3 6–2 University of Phoenix Stadium Recap
9 Bye
10 November 11 St. Louis Rams T 24–24 (OT) 6–2–1 Candlestick Park Recap
11 November 19 Chicago Bears W 32–7 7–2–1 Candlestick Park Recap
12 November 25 at New Orleans Saints W 31–21 8–2–1 Mercedes-Benz Superdome Recap
13 December 2 at St. Louis Rams L 13–16 (OT) 8–3–1 Edward Jones Dome Recap
14 December 9 Miami Dolphins W 27–13 9–3–1 Candlestick Park Recap
15 December 16 at New England Patriots W 41–34 10–3–1 Gillette Stadium Recap
16 December 23 at Seattle Seahawks L 13–42 10–4–1 CenturyLink Field Recap
17 December 30 Arizona Cardinals W 27–13 11–4–1 Candlestick Park Recap
Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.

Regular season Results

Week 1

1 234Total
• 49ers 3 1377 30
Packers 0 7015 22

The 49ers prove they are a force to be reckoned with in the NFL as they beat the Packers 30–22. This is the 49ers first win at Lambeau Field since 1990. With the win, the 49ers started their season 1–0.

Week 2

1 234Total
Lions 6 0310 19
• 49ers 7 7310 27

With the win, the 49ers improved to 2–0.

Week 3

1 234Total
49ers 0 3100 13
• Vikings 7 1007 24

With the loss, the 49ers fell to 2–1 and into a tie with the Seahawks in 2nd place in the NFC West behind the 3–0 Cardinals.

Week 4

1 234Total
• 49ers 0 10717 34
Jets 0 000 0

After a tough road loss, the Niners continued on the road to face the Jets. The team would improve to 3–1 as they handed the Jets their 2nd shutout home loss in 2 years.

Week 5

1 234Total
Bills 0 300 3
• 49ers 3 14721 45
  • Date: October 7
  • Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
  • Game start: 4:25 p.m. EDT
  • Game attendance: 69,732
  • Game weather: 68 °F (20 °C), Sunny
  • Referee: Jerome Boger
  • TV announcers (CBS): Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots

With the huge win, the 49ers improved to 4–1. 2–0 against the AFC East.

Week 6

1 234Total
• Giants 0 10133 26
49ers 3 000 3
  • Date: October 14
  • Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
  • Game start: 4:25 p.m. EDT
  • Game attendance: 69,732
  • Game weather: 66 °F (19 °C), Sunny
  • Referee: John Parry
  • TV announcers (Fox): Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Pam Oliver

With the huge loss, the 49ers fell to 4–2.

Week 7

1 234Total
Seahawks 3 300 6
• 49ers 3 073 13

With the win, the 49ers improved to 5–2.

Week 8

1 234Total
• 49ers 7 1070 24
Cardinals 0 030 3

Alex Smith completed 18-of-19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in a 24–3 Monday night win over Arizona. With the win, the 49ers went into their bye week at 6–2.


Week 10

1 234OTTotal
Rams 14 0370 24
49ers 0 70170 24
  • Date: November 11
  • Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
  • Game attendance: 69,732
  • Game weather: 59 °F (15 °C), Sunny
  • Referee: Clete Blakeman
  • TV announcers (Fox): Chris Myers, Tim Ryan, and Jaime Maggio

Smith suffered a concussion in the second quarter, throwing a touchdown with blurred vision before exiting the game. He was replaced by Colin Kaepernick, and the game ended in a 24–24 tie.[5]

With the tie game, the Niners' season stood at 6–2–1. This would also be the first NFL tie game since 2008 when the Bengals and Eagles played to a 13-point tie. This is also the first tie game between both the Rams and Niners since a 20–20 tie game in 1968.

Week 11

1 234Total
Bears 0 070 7
• 49ers 10 1075 32
  • Date: November 19
  • Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
  • Game attendance: 69,732
  • Game weather: 61 °F (16 °C), Cloudy
  • Referee: Tony Corrente
  • TV announcers (ESPN): Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, and Lisa Salters

Kaepernick started his first NFL game with Smith out with a concussion from the previous week. Kaepernick completed 16 of 23 for 246 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 32–7 win against a strong Bears defense. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke highly of Kaepernick's performance after the game, leaving open the possibility of Kaepernick continuing to start. "Usually tend to go with the guy who's got the hot hand, and we've got two quarterbacks that have got a hot hand," Harbaugh said.[6] He dismissed any rule that a player should not lose their starting job due to an injury.[7][8] With the win, the 49ers improved to 7–2–1.

Week 12

1 234Total
• 49ers 7 7143 31
Saints 7 770 21

Smith was cleared to play the day before the game, but Harbaugh chose not to rush him back and again started Kaepernick. In a rematch of the 2011 playoffs against New Orleans, the 49ers won 31–21 with Kaepernick throwing for a touchdown and running for another. The 49ers defense also returned two Drew Brees interceptions for touchdowns. With the win, the Niners improved to 8–2–1 and also to 2–0 under Kaepernick as a starter.[9][10]

Week 13

1 234OTTotal
49ers 7 0060 13
• Rams 0 02113 16

With their loss to the Rams, the 49ers fell to 8–3–1 on the season. Kaepernick's record as a starter dropped to 2–1.

Week 14

1 234Total
Dolphins 0 337 13
• 49ers 0 6714 27
  • Date: December 9
  • Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
  • Game attendance: 69,732
  • Game weather: 63 °F (17 °C), Sunny
  • Referee: Mike Carey
  • TV announcers (CBS): Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf

With the win the 49ers improved to 9–3–1 giving them their 2nd straight winning season and moving to 3–0 against the AFC East. Also Kaepernick's starting record improved to 3–1.

Week 15

1 234Total
• 49ers 7 101410 41
Patriots 0 3724 34

The 49ers held on to win despite a furious Patriots rally where they erased a 31-3 San Francisco lead to tie the game. With the win the 49ers improved to 10–3–1 and became the only team in the NFC West to defeat all 4 AFC East teams. Kaepernick's starting record also improved to 4–1.

Week 16

1 234Total
49ers 0 607 13
• Seahawks 14 1477 42

The game was originally scheduled for 1:25 PM PST, but was flexed to the Sunday night slot, thus denying Fox a chance to air a game between the 49ers and Seahawks in 2012 as the game in Candlestick Park was played on a Thursday night.

Week 17

1 234Total
Cardinals 3 307 13
• 49ers 0 71010 27
  • Date: December 30
  • Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
  • Game start: 4:25 p.m. EST
  • Game attendance: 69,732
  • Game weather: 55 °F (13 °C), Sunny
  • Referee: Pete Morelli
  • TV announcers (Fox): Gus Johnson, Charles Davis, and Kristina Pink

The Niners returned home for a Week 17 rematch against the Cardinals. Needing a win to capture the NFC West crown, the team would be down 3–0 after the first quarter. But rallied from a 7–6 halftime lead to win the game 27–13 and finished the season with their 2nd straight division title and the NFC's #2 seed with a record of 11–4–1 while going 5–2 under Kaepernick as a starter.


NFC West
(2) San Francisco 49ers 11 4 1 .719 3–2–1 7–4–1 397 273 W1
(5) Seattle Seahawks 11 5 0 .688 3–3 8–4 412 245 W5
St. Louis Rams 7 8 1 .469 4–1–1 6–5–1 299 348 L1
Arizona Cardinals 5 11 0 .313 1–5 3–9 250 357 L2

Postseason schedule

Main article: 2012–13 NFL playoffs

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Recap
Wild Card First-round bye
Divisional January 12, 2013 Green Bay Packers (3) W 45–31 1–0 Candlestick Park Recap
NFC Championship January 20, 2013 at Atlanta Falcons (1) W 28–24 2–0 Georgia Dome Recap
Super Bowl XLVII February 3, 2013 vs. Baltimore Ravens (A4) L 31–34 2–1 Mercedes-Benz Superdome Recap

Postseason results

Further information: 2012–13 NFL playoffs

Divisional Round vs. Green Bay Packers

1 234Total
Packers 14 737 31
49ers 7 17714 45
  • Date: January 12
  • Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
  • Game start: 8:00 p.m. EST
  • Game attendance: 69,732
  • Game weather: 45 °F (Cloudy)
  • Referee: Jerome Boger
  • TV announcers (Fox): Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver, and Erin Andrews

In his first career playoff game, 25-year-old 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns, setting both the NFL single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback as well as the 49ers postseason record for rushing, regardless of position.[11][12] He also passed for 263 yards and two scores. Overall, San Francisco racked up 579 yards, including a franchise record 323 rushing yards, and scored a touchdown in every quarter to earn their second consecutive trip to the NFC championship game.[11]

However, Kaepernick didn't get off to a good start. Less than two minutes into the game, he threw a pass that was intercepted by Sam Shields and returned 52 yards for a touchdown. But he quickly rallied his team back, completing a 45-yard pass to running back Frank Gore before taking the ball into the end zone himself on a 20-yard run. Later in the period, Green Bay took a 14–7 lead with Aaron Rodgers' 44-yard completion to James Jones setting up an 18-yard touchdown run by DuJuan Harris. The Packers then forced a punt, but returner Jeremy Ross muffed the kick and C. J. Spillman recovered it for San Francisco on the Packers 9-yard line. Two plays later, Kaepernick tied the score at 14 with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. Then defensive back Tarell Brown intercepted a pass from Rodgers, setting up Kaepernick's second touchdown pass to Crabtree, this one from 20 yards out.

With 2:39 left in the half, Rodgers' 20-yard touchdown pass to Jones tied the score at 21. But on the 49ers next drive, a pair of runs by Kaepernick for gains of 19 and 17 yards enabled David Akers to kick a 36-yard field goal, sending the teams into their lockers rooms with San Francisco leading 24–21.

In the third quarter, Green Bay drove 76 yards in 9 plays, featuring a 30-yard reception by Greg Jennings and scored a Mason Crosby field goal. But the tie turned out to be short lived. On the third play of their next drive, Kaepernick faked a handoff, rolled right, and took off for a career long 56-yard touchdown run, retaking the lead at 31–24. Then after a punt, he completed a 44-yard pass to tight end Vernon Davis, setting up Gore's 2-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Following another punt, Kaepernick led the 49ers back for more points, this time on a 93-yard drive. First he ran for a 16-yard gain, and later he completed a 17-yard throw to tight end Delanie Walker. On the next play, Gore's 26-yard burst moved the ball to the Packers 27-yard line. Anthony Dixon eventually finished the 11-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run, making the score 45–24.

With under a minute left, Rodgers threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jennings. But any hope of a miracle comeback was dashed when Walker recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt.

Crabtree was the top receiver of the game, with 9 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Gore rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown, while also catching two passes for 48 yards. Linebacker Patrick Willis had 7 tackles and a sack. Rodgers finished 26/39 for 257 yards and two touchdowns, with 1 interception, while also rushing for 28 yards. Kaepernick finished the game responsible for more yards gained (444) than the entire Packers team (352).

NFC Championship Game vs. Atlanta Falcons

1 234Total
49ers 0 1477 28
Falcons 10 1400 24

San Francisco overcame a 17-point deficit, the largest comeback ever in an NFC championship game, to earn their sixth Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

Atlanta dominated the first quarter, mainly on plays by receiver Julio Jones, who caught 5 passes in it for 100 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown catch on their opening drive, and a 27-yard reception on their next drive to set up a Matt Bryant field goal. Following a punt, Matt Ryan hit Roddy White for a 23-yard gain on the last play of the first quarter. Then he threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jones on the first play of the second, giving the Falcons a 17–0 lead.

This time San Francisco struck back with an 80-yard scoring drive, with Frank Gore rushing for 20 yards and Vernon Davis catching a pass for 27. LaMichael James finished the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run. Then after forcing a three-and-out, Colin Kaepernick rushed for 23 yards and completed three passes to Davis for 48 yards, the last a 4-yard touchdown pass to make the score 17–14. But Atlanta stormed back as Ryan completed five passes for double-digit gains on their next drive, the last one a 10-yard score to tight end Tony Gonzalez with 25 seconds left in the half.

The 49ers took the opening kickoff and drove 82 yards, with Kaepernick completing two passes to Randy Moss for 38 yards and one to tight end Delanie Walker for 20. Gore completed the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run, cutting their deficit to 24–21. On Atlanta's ensuing possession, defensive back Chris Culliver gave San Francisco a great chance to tie or take the lead by intercepting a pass from Ryan and returning it to the Falcons 25-yard line. But San Francisco failed to gain a first down and came up empty when David Akers hit the uprights on a 38-yard field goal try. Later on, the 49ers got another scoring opportunity when defensive lineman Aldon Smith recovered a fumble from Ryan on his own 40-yard line. They subsequently drove deep into Falcons territory, but once again they failed to score when defensive back Dunta Robinson stripped the ball from Michael Crabtree on the 1-yard line as he was trying to get in for the go-ahead score, and linebacker Stephen Nichols recovered it.

With 12 minutes left in regulation, Ted Ginn Jr.'s 20-yard punt return gave San Francisco the ball on the Falcons 38-yard line. Five plays later, Gore scored his second touchdown on a 9-yard run, giving the 49ers their first lead of the game at 28–24. Atlanta responded with a drive to the 49ers 13-yard line, but consecutive incompletions on third and fourth down caused a turnover on downs with just 1:13 left in the game.

Atlanta managed to force a punt and get the ball with 13 seconds to go. Ryan completed a pass to Jones on the final play, but he was tackled at the 49ers 35-yard line as time expired.

Kaepernick finished 16/21 for 233 yards and a touchdown, along with 21 rushing yards. Davis caught 5 passes for 106 yards and a score. Gore rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan completed 30 of 42 passes for 396 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. Jones caught 11 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns, while White had 7 receptions for 100 yards. Gonzalez caught 8 passes for 78 yards and a score.

Super Bowl XLVII

Main article: Super Bowl XLVII

1 234Total
Ravens 7 1476 34
49ers 3 3178 31

In what seemed like it would be a blowout win for the Ravens, the Niners rallied in the 2nd half. With the Ravens leading 28–6, Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff for a touchdown at the start of the 2nd half. For a period, the 49ers outscored the Ravens 25–6, and had a chance to take the lead late in the game. However, the Ravens defense was strong, stopping the 49ers offense at the 4-yard line and forcing a turnover on downs. This marked the first time ever in franchise history the Niners had lost a Super Bowl as their overall record dropped to 13–5–1 on the season and 2–1 in the postseason. The loss made their Super Bowl record 5–1. This game is known as "The Harbowl", as it was the first time in Super Bowl history two brothers faced off against each other as coaches. Additionally, it was the first Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 to not feature Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, or Peyton Manning. This tradition would hold until Super Bowl LIV, which ironically also featured the 49ers.


  1. ^ Dodds, Eric (November 28, 2012). "Examining the 49ers Quarterback Controversy". time.com. Archived from the original on November 30, 2012.
  2. ^ Sando, Mike (November 27, 2012). "Reaching back for 49ers QB parallels". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on October 31, 2012.
  3. ^ "Colin Kaepernick to start for 49ers". ESPN.com. November 28, 2012. Archived from the original on December 1, 2012.
  4. ^ Garafolo, Mike; Jones, Lindsay H. (February 27, 2013). "49ers agree to trade quarterback Alex Smith to Chiefs". USA Today. Retrieved March 12, 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Colin Kaepernick on first team". ESPN.com. November 21, 2012. Archived from the original on November 22, 2012.
  6. ^ Samano, Simon (November 20, 2012). "Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick? 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh wouldn't say after win over Bears". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 22, 2012.
  7. ^ "Harbaugh: 49ers will start 'hot hand'". ESPN.com. November 21, 2012. Archived from the original on November 21, 2012.
  8. ^ Bell, Jarrett (November 20, 2012). "Jim Harbaugh is playing with fire by inviting quarterback controversy". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 23, 2012.
  9. ^ Sando, Mike (November 26, 2012). "Victory trumps QB confusion for 49ers". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on November 26, 2012.
  10. ^ Klemko, Robert (November 26, 2012). "Kaepernick doesn't disappoint as 49ers defeat Saints". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 26, 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Colin Kaepernick sets QB rushing mark as Niners oust Packers". ESPN.com. January 12, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  12. ^ Inman, Cam (January 12, 2013). "Putting Kaepernick's rushing performance in franchise, league perspective". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved January 14, 2013.