Frank Gore ran 33 yards down to the 7-yard line, and came back to the huddle ready to finish the job. The 49ers were 7 yards, and 2 minutes, 39 seconds, from winning the Super Bowl.

"I got to the huddle and Vernon (Davis) was in my face, screaming, 'We need you. You're a big-time player and we need some more big-time plays,' " Gore said. "And then …"

And then Gore watched as the 49ers handed the ball to LaMichael James for 2 yards and then threw three straight incomplete passes to Michael Crabtree.

Gore would finish the game with 110 yards, and Colin Kaepernick added 62 yards on seven carries, but head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman lived and ultimately died with the pass.

A lot of 49ers players were shaking their heads as they walked off the Superdome turf, and not simply at losing, but at how they lost.

"That's one thing we talked about," tight end Delanie Walker said. "Why didn't we run it? We don't know. We were running the ball on them all day. … I guess the offensive coordinator saw something up there, and he tried what he did, and they just did a great job of stopping it."

That the Ravens did, and a beaming defensive coordinator Dean Pees said the 49ers were forced to try to score via the pass on those last three plays.

"We were not going to let them run it in on us," Pees said. "We got beat in Philadelphia because I let (Michael Vick) run it in on us, and that was not going to happen again."

Pees thinks the 49ers were going to run on 3rd-and-5, but then they didn't like a defensive look and rushed to call a timeout.

The Ravens got good pressure on Kaepernick, but it wasn't a good "pass rush," per se.

"All those pressures were called for the run, not for the pass," Pees said. "The only pressure that was called for a pass was on the two-point conversion, when they threw it hot over (Randy Moss') head.