Frank Gore already has a New Year's resolution.

"I want to say I was on a team that won the trophy," the 49ers running back said last week. "I don't want to be remembered as one of the guys who got to the championship and didn't get the job done."

Indeed, 2013 will best be remembered as the year the 49ers lost the big one. Our staff voted their thrilling, maddening defeat in Super Bowl XLVII as the top Bay Area sports story of the year.

The 49ers hardly were alone. This year's top 10 list is dominated by teams that knocked on the door to greatness -- only to settle for excellence.

1. 49ers' Super frustration

The 49ers came tantalizingly close to glory Feb. 3 in New Orleans but instead inspired the kind of frustration rarely felt in the Bay Area since Willie McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson in the 1962 World Series.

This time, the angst stemmed from a first-and-goal from the 7-yard line -- that's how close the 49ers came to a sixth Lombardi Trophy. But the Baltimore Ravens held on as Jim Harbaugh was topped by big brother John amid a flurry of questionable play-calling and controversial officiating.

The 49ers coach was most miffed by a fourth-and-goal pass from the 5, when he thought Jimmy Smith held receiver Michael Crabtree. Colin Kaepernick's pass fell incomplete, essentially ending the 49ers' chances of a comeback.

The Ravens won 34-31.

"There's no question in my mind that there was a pass interference and then a hold on Crabtree on the last one," Jim Harbaugh said.

So ended a frenzied comeback for the 49ers who trailed by 22 points before playing lights-out after a Superdome power failure delayed the game.

This was the 49ers' first Super Bowl loss and the first time they reached the title game since the 1994 season. The finish felt so unsatisfactory that it was still fresh on Eddie DeBartolo's mind when the former owner visited Candlestick Park for the stadium's final scheduled game.

"There will be no first-and-goal on the 5 this year," DeBartolo said. "The (49ers) are going to win the Super Bowl."

2. Warriors' playoff run

In 2013, "We Believe" gave way to "We Belong."

Led by the burgeoning backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors shook up the Western Conference playoffs by upsetting the third-seeded Denver Nuggets and holding their own against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Warriors had made the playoffs only once since 1994 but looked undaunted even after power forward David Lee, the team's first All-Star selection since Latrell Sprewell in 1997, sustained a torn right hip flexor in Game 1 against Denver.

Lee played sparingly the rest of the way, but bravura performances by Curry (23.4 points per game in the postseason) and Andrew Bogut (10.9 rebounds, despite a bum ankle) kept Oracle Arena rockin' until the Spurs won the conference semifinals in six games.

"It's inspiring to think of what we were able to accomplish this year and the foundation that has been laid," coach Mark Jackson said.

3. America's Cup comeback

Do you believe in Oracle? Yes!

The miracle by the Bay featured Oracle Team USA roaring back from the brink of elimination to beat challenger Emirates Team New Zealand for one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sports.

"I'm going to rank it No. 1," skipper Jimmy Spithill said Sept. 25. "We never gave up."

Oracle Team USA came back from an 8-1 deficit to win eight straight races. The boat owned by Bay Area billionaire Larry Ellison sped past New Zealand one last time in Race 19, carving a legend on a picturesque course near the Golden Gate Bridge.

"Just wanted to make it exciting for you guys," Spithill quipped.

Start bracing for the sequel: San Francisco will bid to host America's Cup again in 2017.

4. Putting a Bowman on Candlestick

Demolition of Candlestick Park won't take place until late next year, but let the record show that Dec. 23 was the night NaVorro Bowman brought down the house.

The 49ers linebacker essentially closed out the last scheduled game at the 'Stick with a playoff-clinching 89-yard interception return for a touchdown. With the likes of Dwight Clark, Steve Young and Jerry Rice looking on, Bowman's score with 1:10 remaining iced a wild 34-24 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

"Somebody just mentioned to me that they're going to have to redo those 'Top 10 Plays at Candlestick,' " Bowman said after the game.

Bowman laughed as he said it, but it was no joke: It might have been the most thrilling defensive play ever recorded at the 49ers' home since 1971.

"That's been the best thing I've ever seen happen in a football game," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Might've been close to 'The Catch.' "

The 49ers' final regular-season record at Candlestick Park: 205-124-2.

5. A's repeat in West

A year after their pie-flinging ways made for a cute feel-good story, the A's reminded people that they truly are among baseball's upper crust.

Oakland won its second consecutive American League West title, fending off the lavish-spending Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, among others.

That "fluke" word will fade eventually. This was the A's sixth A.L. West title in the past 14 years and the 16th in Oakland history. Only the New Yankees (18) and Atlanta Braves (17) have more division titles.

The A's opened the season with a payroll of about $65 million, the fourth lowest in the majors, and played in a ballpark best known in 2013 for leaking sewage.

Before getting ousted by Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers in the A.L. division series, the A's amassed the third-best record in the majors.

"I think last year we surprised a lot of people," said third baseman Josh Donaldson, who finished fourth in MVP voting. "I think this year we're an all-around better team and we feel like we belong."

6. Stanford's back-to-back Rose Bowls

This says it all about the evolution of the Cardinal football program: A second consecutive Rose Bowl appearance has the whiff of a letdown.

Stanford (11-2) had legitimate national title hopes, and its two losses were by a total of nine points. The Cardinal lost by six points to unheralded Utah (failing twice on third-and-2 from the six) and by a field goal to USC.

Still ...

This is Stanford's fourth consecutive BCS bowl appearance and second consecutive Pac-12 title. The Cardinal is headed to Pasadena in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1970-71.

"Last year, we came out of nowhere," Cardinal coach David Shaw said. "This year, we got everybody's best game. We had two bumps, and a lot of people wrote us off.

"But the seniors never batted an eyelash. They never stopped believing.' "

Stanford will face Michigan State, the Big Ten champion, in the 100th Rose Bowl on Wednesday.

7. Lincecum throws a no-hitter

In typical Tim Lincecum fashion, even his no-hitter was freaky.

The Giants right-hander threw a career-high 148 pitches -- the second most in a no-hitter since at least 1988 -- but the San Diego Padres couldn't do a thing with any of them in the Giants' 9-0 victory.

Lincecum struck out 13 at Petco Park on July 13 and got spectacular defensive help from right fielder Hunter Pence (a diving catch in the eighth) and Pablo Sandoval (a nifty backhanded play in the seventh).

"I'm still kind of pinching myself right now," Lincecum said after the game.

The no-no was a stunning rebuke to anyone who wondered whether "The Freak" would ever again flash the form that made him a two-time Cy Young Award winner. Lincecum wobbled into that game with a 4-9 record and a 4.61 ERA.

But his gem helped persuade the Giants that there is more in the tank: They re-signed Lincecum to a two-year, $35 million deal. The Giants also recently secured Pence (five years, $90 million) on the heels of a megadeal for catcher Buster Posey (nine years, $167 million) in March.

8. Bob Ladouceur says farewell

The legendary football coach saw no need to round out the number. Bob Ladouceur's career at De La Salle High ended at 399-25-3.

"I understand the number (399) has some kind of weirdness to it. Maybe way down the road they'll think I died midseason?' " Ladouceur, 58, quipped in announcing the end of an era Jan. 4.

In truth, Ladouceur -- and his program -- were as healthy as ever when he stepped aside. And the numbers aren't weird, they're staggering: 20 unbeaten seasons, a national-record 151-game winning streak (from 1992-2003), 28 North Coast Section titles, five CIF state championships (since 2006) and four consecutive Open Division state titles to cap his career.

9. Cal women reach first Final Four

Bay Area fans are accustomed to seeing a team reach the Final Four in women's basketball -- but not this team.

Cal became the first West Coast team other than Stanford to reach the big stage in 25 years. The Bears, who finished 32-4, were only the third Pac-12 school to achieve the feat, joining the Cardinal and USC.

"I knew this was possible," coach Lindsay Gottlieb said after Cal toppled Georgia in a 65-62 thriller to get past the Elite Eight. "I believed in this group more than anyone ever."

Someone else who believed: President Barack Obama, who picked the Bears to reach New Orleans in his March Madness bracket.

Cal's title hopes ended with a loss to Louisville in the national semifinals.

Stanford, meanwhile, failed to reach a sixth consecutive Final Four. Cardinal Coach Tara VanDerveer got a measure of consolation in December when she became the fifth women's coach to reach 900 career victories.

10. Tony La Russa elected to Hall of Fame

In the first-ever game at the Oakland Coliseum, on April 17, 1968, an obscure A's infielder named Tony La Russa singled as a pinch-hitter in the ninth against Baltimore's Dave McNally.

Who could have known the kid was headed for the Hall of Fame?

La Russa re-emerged in Oakland as the A's manager from 1986-95 and kept pressing the buttons that would take him to Cooperstown. He converted fading starter Dennis Eckersley into an ace reliever, transformed little-used pitcher Dave Stewart into a big-game ace and juggled a clubhouse featuring the likes of Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson and Mark McGwire.

A four-time manager of the year, La Russa went 798-673 (.542) with the A's and guided Oakland to the World Series title in 1989. He went on to win three more pennants and two World Series championships with the St. Louis Cardinals.

"He's more than deserving," Stewart said upon hearing that La Russa was unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame by a 16-member expansion-era committee. "I think what made him a Hall of Famer was his preparation."

Follow Daniel Brown on Twitter at twitter.com/mercbrownie.