Sports

49ers’ Colin Kaepernick hoping for a return engagement

NEW ORLEANS _ After coming so close, about as close as possible without actually winning, Colin Kaepernick was asked what was going through his mind. The San Francisco 49ers’ dynamic young quarterback responded with three simple words:

“We’ll be back.”

Amid the disappointment and devastation of a 34-31 loss to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, the 49ers held on to that hope. They’re younger than the Ravens. Almost every one of San Francisco’s starters is under contract for next season. There’s every reason to believe these 49ers are just getting started.

But nothing is guaranteed in this sport. In 1984, an impressive young quarterback named Dan Marino led the Miami Dolphins to a Super Bowl berth in just his second season. They lost, and he never made it back.

Knowing he had such a splendid opportunity to do what Marino couldn’t led Kaepernick, also in his second season, to also utter these three words: “It’s very frustrating.”

Kaepernick had multiple shots into the end zone from close range to tie the score or give the 49ers the lead. None bore fruit.

His hurried 2-point conversion pass toward Randy Moss sailed high. Kaepernick’s rushed fourth-down pass for Michael Crabtree produced the same result.

“We had good plays; we had bad plays in the red zone,” Kaepernick said “They’re out there trying to play defense just as hard as we’re trying to play offense.”

After a shaky first half in which he looked uncharacteristically nervous, Kaepernick led the 49ers almost all the way back from a 28-6 deficit. He threw a touchdown pass. He ran for a score. He did all the things that made him one of 2012’s breakout players ? except win the game.

“I think Kap was ready for the moment,” tight end Vernon Davis said. “I’ve always believed in Kaepernick, since Day One. I always thought that he had the talent and the mind to be a leader; not only a leader, but a winner on this stage. I thought he did a terrific job, and I’m excited about his future.”

Kaepernick threw a first-half interception _ the first by a 49ers quarterback in six Super Bowls _ but shook it off, just as he did in the divisional round against Green Bay. He finished with 302 passing yards and 62 rushing yards _ excellent numbers, but ultimately hollow ones.

Asked if he did his job well, Kaepernick said: “No, I didn’t. We lost, so obviously it wasn’t enough.”

Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the start of Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, Sunday, February 3, 2013. (Lionel Hahn/Abaca Press/MCT)

Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the start of Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, Sunday, February 3, 2013. (Lionel Hahn/Abaca Press/MCT) McClatchy and Tribune Newspapers

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