"There are so many coulda, woulda, shouldas in that game," offensive coordinator Greg Roman told Peter King of Sports Illustrated.
King points out that Roman rolled out 13 different alignments on the first 13 plays against the Baltimore Ravens. That included a whopping 12 unique combinations of running backs, receivers and tight ends -- but it's what the 49ers couldn't do down the stretch that will be remembered in the Bay Area until the end of days.
"That's life," said Roman. "That's sort of the life of a coach. Will it eat at me? Of course it will. But I'll use it as motivation going forward. To dwell on something that's over is so utterly pointless. Anytime you make a call and the play doesn't work, you think of another play that might have worked. We had a valiant effort, a great comeback, and it wasn't enough. That's life. It's the game we love, the highs, the lows. But it doesn't take away from what we did this year, and how excited I'm going to be to coach these guys next year."
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Roman's play-calling in the waning moments of the fourth quarter will be discussed for months. Trailing 34-29 at the two-minute warning, Kaepernick attempted three straight passes -- all incompletions. It appeared Kaepernick was aiming to dart for the goal line on a third-and-goal snap, but the play was whistled dead when coach Jim Harbaugh called a timeout. The 49ers proceeded to come out throwing -- and misfiring -- after the break, handing the ball back to the Ravens on downs.
Roman now has the rest of the offseason to tweak the playbook and add new dimensions to one of the league's most interesting attacks. Other teams will study the 49ers and the pistol formation in an attempt to evolve offensively, but Roman doesn't plan to sit still.
"We're going to do the same thing, too," Roman said. "We won't be the same, either."