While most San Francisco 49ers fans are still devastated by the loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship, incredibly, I was over it the day after. Don't get me wrong, that night I was in disbelief at what might have been. If only a call had gone our way. If only a fumble had not occurred. We were so very close to fighting for one more Lombardi trophy to add to the collection. However, the next morning, I was fine. I accepted the fact that we would not be playing the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. I accepted the fact that the 49ers' season was over. Life went on.

So what made this devastating loss so much easier for me to accept? For the answer, we must go back five months. The 49ers had just been blown out for the second time in their first three preseason games. Their lone victory was against the Oakland Raiders, so naturally that did not mean much. I knew it was just preseason, but the team looked lost and headed for disaster.

The 49ers, unlike most other NFL teams, had a new coaching staff that was trying to install a new system after a very abbreviated offseason shortened by a lock-out. Obviously teams with established systems were going to have the advantage come September. To make matters worse, the coaching staff had inherited a 6 win team. Sure there were a few new faces on the team. There was a new kicker replacing Joe Nedney, a new corner replacing Nate Clements -- but this was still pretty much the same team talent-wise, right? Six wins in 2011 seemed optimistic at that point. Just look at their first 6 games. I was hoping they would win at least one of them!

As had become the norm over the years, my hopes were high but my expectations were low. Perhaps this was a defense mechanism after so many years of losing.

I realize that much of this new generation of Niner fans are pretty young. Many of them don't remember the years of consistent playoff appearances. For them, being in the playoffs is a new experience and they wanted it to continue. After all, this was a special team. I on the other hand, do remember the winning years. Let's go back a bit further in time. I remember how the 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 seasons ended. The first three were at the hands of the Green Bay Packers, each year destroying my Super Bowl hopes. The last, after finally beating the Packers, running back Garrison Hearst breaks his ankle on the first play from scrimmage against the Falcons in the Divisional Playoffs. That team most likely would have won it all. Those losses were more heart breaking. Those losses were more devastating. Why? Because back then, each season you expected the Super Bowl. The 49ers had a "Super Bowl or bust" mentality.

Then there was the 1999 season, the 49ers first losing season in 17 years. In fact, the last time the 49ers had a losing season prior to 1999, I was four years old. So I only remembered winning. I was in shock that the 49ers would not be in the playoffs. I mean, wasn't a spot reserved for them regardless? They were the San Francisco 49ers after all. The playoffs was where they belong. How could there even be a postseason without them?

Fast forward to last weekend. It was the Giants going on to the Super Bowl and not the 49ers. And after a day or so, I was ok with that. After all, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that this team would win 13 games and make it to the NFC Championship game. Despite the flaws on this team (the wide receiver position immediately come to mind), they had done the unthinkable. No one even imagined that they would win the NFC West, yet here they were just one step from the Super Bowl.

The 49ers lost the game in dramatic fashion, but came so very close. I was so proud of this team. They were the underdogs all year and they thrived on it. They fought harder than any team I could remember. Players that some fans ridiculed were all of a sudden heroes. It was a team of example. It was a team with a great story. This young 49ers team believed in themselves and the fans followed. This was just the beginning. This was just the start of something very special. So where there should have been disappointment, there was only excitement for the future. The San Francisco 49ers of old were back.

Just Imagine what Harbaugh will do with a full offseason.

Et cetera

For those so called 49ers fans that felt the need to send Kyle Williams hateful and threatening messages via Twitter, check out this 7-year old's message to Williams and realize that a child has more maturity than you.