SANTA CLARA -- Four months after reaching the pinnacle of their sport, only to be pushed off, the 49ers express little or no desire to relive the experience, at least for now.
"It's all left behind,'' tight end Vernon Davis said after practice Tuesday.
"I let it go," linebacker NaVorro Bowman said a few minutes later.
Davis and Bowman were talking about Super Bowl XLVII and the 34-31 loss to Baltimore, a game during which the 49ers spent the final minutes marching downfield, getting close enough to touch the goal line, only to fail to cross it in four plays.
They were talking about a game they'll never forget -- no matter how hard they try.
"It still haunts us,'' said Bowman, who has not watched video of the game.
"It took me about two months to get it out of my system,'' said Davis, who also has not replayed any of the game video. "And then I let it all go."
Perhaps it's too soon for Bowman or Davis or any other 49er to appreciate what was achieved. Maybe the wounds are too fresh for them to graciously accept being the best team in the NFC.
The 49ers devoted themselves to nothing less than winning the Super Bowl. They did the work, made the sacrifices. They came within 5 yards and a few seconds of everything that comes with winning it all -- the confetti shower, the Lombardi Trophy, the talk-show tours, the symbolic jewelry and, above all, the gratification that comes with completing an arduous journey.
And now it's as if Davis and Bowman, and perhaps the rest of the 49ers, attended the same group therapy sessions.
Credit the short-term memory required to succeed as a professional. These men are well-paid specialists who perform at the highest level. Losing, as distasteful as it might be, is part of the gig. No team wins every game and nobody retires undefeated.
More to the point, the work is seasonal. For those that are back for the 2013 season and attending organized team activities and minicamps, there is the opportunity to begin anew. It's another chance for delayed fulfillment.
"It drives us,'' Davis said of the lingering effect of losing a Super Bowl. "When you get that close, get a chance to smell it and see what it's all about, you want to do it again. That's the exciting thing about it, the unique thing about it. We know what it's like, so going into the next one we know what to expect. We know what we have to do.
"We have to move on. We can't dwell on something like that. Obviously, it wasn't our time."
The 49ers are naïve enough to believe their future includes multiple Super Bowls. They can buy into this because they have a terrific defense, a dynamic young quarterback -- Colin Kaepernick has started all of 10 NFL games -- and a creative, proficient staff, led by head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Then, too, there is the arc of the franchise in the two seasons since Harbaugh and Co. arrived in 2011. After eight consecutive seasons without a winning record, the 49ers in Harbaugh's rookie season went 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship game. They lost. They responded in 2012 by posting an 11-4-1 record and winning the title game.
Having lost the last Super Bowl, isn't it natural progression to win the next one? Anything less surely amounts to collapse and there has been no sign of that with Harbaugh working his crazy magic.
Davis and Bowman spoke without detectable traces of bitterness. Nor was there any sign of misery. Yet it was evident Super Bowl XLVII left a wallop of a hangover, and perhaps even a few scars.
But their heads are clear now. This is a new season, with new faces and new ideas -- and, OK, maybe an intensified source of motivation.
"I've sensed a very eager bunch out here,'' Harbaugh said. "Eager. Yeah. Good word.''
Certainly as appropriate as any word describing this team, considering the two-year ride it has taken.