NEW ORLEANS — In the grim aftermath of Super Bowl XLVII, Colin Kaepernick made a promise and Frank Gore made it, too.
They said the 49ers weren't done with Super Bowls, and they had the right and maybe even the responsibility to make that kind of pledge Sunday night.
Because this whole 49ers season was a promise, wasn't it?
Not just about the 2012 season or Super Bowl XLVII, but about the next several years, and maybe the next era of Super Bowls.
That's where this has to be headed, even if the 49ers feel like they left a title on the table this season.
Unless this unravels under the weight of frustration, because of dramatic injury, or because of some other football bane, the 49ers are young enough and smart enough to compete for many more championships.
And, with Kaepernick growing into excellence and the 49ers defense maintaining it, they should win a few of them, too.
The 49ers were the rightful favorites on Sunday but lost 34-31 to Baltimore after a slew of early 49ers' mistakes, an incredible comeback, and then failure in the final minutes.
Coach Jim Harbaugh, Kaepernick and the rest did not fulfill their apparent destiny this time; they had every opportunity, and they came up short for now, just as they came up short against the New York Giants a round earlier last season.
(And yes, this means the 49ers have had their seasons ended by the eventual champions the last two years.)
But Harbaugh, Kaepernick, Gore & Co. should have several more chances together.
They were built to have many chances, all stemming from Kaepernick, who started his 10th NFL game Sunday and almost fashioned the greatest comeback victory in Super Bowl history.
Las Vegas agrees. The odds for next season are already up and the 49ers are the second favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII, behind only the Denver Broncos and tied with the New England Patriots.