49ers move on after falling short again

JANIE McCAULEY AP Sports Writer Published:

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- The San Francisco 49ers took months last year to get over the sting of a three-point Super Bowl loss to Baltimore.

It won't be much different as they head into the offseason this time, again left to ponder how close they came. Except this time, they have the added frustration of being forced to watch the rival Seattle Seahawks head to the Super Bowl next week instead.

Three years under coach Jim Harbaugh, three near misses. Yet this is exactly where the franchise wants to be: competing for a chance at the Super Bowl each year.

What hurt perhaps more than packing up two weeks prematurely was seeing All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman go down with a serious knee injury during Sunday's 23-17 NFC championship loss at Seattle.

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