It’s Super Bowl week, and I still can’t believe the 49ers won’t be playing on Sunday.
That alone is enough to make their 2013 feel like a disappointment. Which it certainly was.
This team was good enough to be there. Despite all of the setbacks, be it the offseason injury to Michael Crabtree, the Week 2 loss of Ian Williams and Aldon Smith’s treatment for alcohol abuse, this team should have been there.
The 49ers should be in New Jersey, getting ready to face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Instead they’re at home, licking their wounds and probably doing the same thing 49ers fans are doing, wondering how it all went wrong in last Sunday’s 23-17 NFC Championship loss to the Seahawks.
I Tweeted my initial reaction immediately after the game ended, and Richard Sherman was inducted into the “First Take” Hall of Fame:
Can’t say it’s as bad as the Super Bowl loss last year. But this definitely ranks up there with the 1992-93 NFC ‘Chip loss to Dallas. #49ers
— Scott J. Adams (@SJAdams) January 20, 2014
But really, it should hurt worse for the 49ers faithful. Worse than those both of those NFC Championship losses to the Cowboys in 1992 and 1993 and, to take it to the next level, worse than the Kyle Williams fumble against the Giants in 2010. It’s not as bad as Super Bowl XLVII, but it’s close.
Because unlike each of those games, the 49ers looked like the better team in this one from start to finish, even with Colin Kaepernick’s fourth quarter meltdown (more on that later).
They had the arch rival Seahawks beat after three quarters at CenturyLink Field. All they had to do was not wet the bed.
Even though they did exactly that (see: Kaepernick’s three turnovers and Russell Wilson’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse on a fourth-and-long), the 49ers still had a chance to win it on their final drive.
Then Super Bowl XLVII happened all over again. The 49ers marched downfield, looked like they couldn’t lose, then lost on a Kaepernick throw to Crabtree in the endzone.
(Quick question: Was anyone else thinking “Oh sh*t” as the ball left Kap’s hand?)
Of course the pass was slightly underthrown. Of course Sherman was on the coverage and made a great play even though Crabtree had a step on him. Of course the Seahawks — the hated Seahawks — broke the 49ers’ hearts.
Don’t try and tell me this season wasn’t a disappointment for San Francisco.
The 49ers overcame a cable carload of adversity and gave us some memorable moments from a more pleasant standpoint: the season-opening thrashing of Green Bay, the countless game-winning field goals by Phil Dawson, NaVorro Bowman’s 89-yard pick six to end the final game at Candlestick Park, playoff wins at Lambeau Field and at Carolina (can’t forget the two goal-line stands) and a third straight trip to the NFC Championship in as many seasons under coach Jim Harbaugh.
But in the end, the ultimate goal was not met.
Before we turn to yet another long offseason for San Francisco, here are some of my final thoughts on 2013.