Kaeding, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, percentage-wise, hurt his groin in workouts leading up to the game.
So instead of erasing that bad taste of three misfires when it counted the most, he'll have to stew over it during what figures to be a challenging offseason.
"I was looking forward to getting out there and getting to kick and going through that, rather than six months from now," he said.
Instead he has to stew over the misses.
"It's impossible for me not to think about," he said. "There haven't been 30 seconds that have gone by since that game that I haven't thought about it."
Kaeding's meltdown is so troubling in that he entered the postseason with 69 consecutive kicks from 40 yards or closer. But he missed two from inside 40 on that day the team was upended by the Jets; another one from 57 yards was short.
Can the Chargers move forward with Kaeding? Can they trust him in a playoff-pressure cooker after he admitted the first misfire led to the other two?
"On that day, I wasn't mentally strong enough to come back and swing through the ball."
Now he has to live with that heartache, not getting a chance to partially redeem himself until next season.
"I wish I had a chance tomorrow," he said.
--Coach Don Coryell, after advancing to the finalist stage for the first time, was denied in his bid to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "It was a good first step," said Chargers Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts, who is leading the charge for his old coach. "And we will be back every year until we get him to Canton."
--With his me-or-the-highway approach and regal manner in which he carries himself, Chargers general manager A.J. Smith is called by some as "The Lord of No Rings." After Drew Brees won the recent Super Bowl, that made four Super Bowl rings accumulated by quarterbacks Smith has passed on: Ben Roethlisberger (two), Eli Manning (one) and Brees (one). Roethlisberger was passed over by Smith in the draft, he traded Manning and let Brees walk as a free agent.
--LT Marcus McNeill is already talking in past tense about one of the greatest Chargers ever. "At least I had the opportunity to play for one of the greatest," McNeill on blocking for LaDainian Tomlinson, who isn't expected to return next year.
--GM A.J. Smith said all this talk about LaDainian Tomlinson's future is premature: "We haven't made any decisions yet."
--Assistant head coach Rod Chudzinski withdrew his name from the now-filled post as the Bears' offensive coordinator after interviewing with Chicago.
--The Chargers have declined to exercise an out clause in their contract with the city and will stay in San Diego at least one more year as they try to build momentum for a downtown venue next door to the Padres' Petco Park. "I think we have made it pretty clear that we intended to stay and keep working on the downtown site in 2010," said Mark Fabiani, the team's special counsel.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's what happens when you take a guy who's done so much and you make him feel like he's not part of the team." -- TE Antonio Gates on why LaDainian Tomlinson felt disconnected from the club.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The biggest focus here will be on players as coach Norv Turner was granted a three-extension the day after the Chargers were eliminated from the playoffs.
There doesn't appear to be any imminent changes to the staff, despite the fact defensive coordinator Ron Rivera was among Chargers coaches on other team's radars.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson
It's clear the future Hall of Famer isn't going to return at any price, as his pride was wounded during a season in which he was an afterthought in the offense.
The team also has to decide how to attack Darren Sproles, another running back. He was given $6 million last year, and that seems to be a little rich for a guy who can't rush every down -- but is a heck of a returner and receiver out of the backfield.
It was believed the Chargers wouldn't bring back outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, but in an uncapped year, his return is more plausible.
The team also needs to structure a long-term deal for left tackle Marcus McNeill, a key part of an offense which leans so heavily on the pass.
1. Running back: With LaDainian Tomlinson not expected to return and Darren Sproles not being an every-down back, the Chargers need to shore up this position.
2. Defensive tackle: Jamal Williams missed all but one game last year injured; the Chargers have to face the fact he is returning for his 13th season this year. A replacement here is needed.
3. Cornerback: If the Chargers go a different direction in regard to starter Antonio Cromartie, a replacement needs to be found. He may not be on the roster, and that includes former first-round pick Antoine Cason.
MEDICAL WATCH: DT Jamal Williams (arm) is expected to be ready for training camp.
--RT Jeromey Clary (ankle) is hopeful to be fit by training camp.
--OLB Antwan Applewhite (ankle) is rehabbing and expected back for offseason workouts.
--CB Brandon Hughes (knee) should be back for offseason work.
--DT Ryon Bingham (triceps) should be back for the minicamps.
--C/G Scott Mruczkowski (ankle) could be challenged to return in time for minicamps.
--OLB Jyles Tucker (ankle) should be back for training camp; minicamp could be a stretch.
--WR Demetrius Byrd is still recovering from injuries sustained just before the draft. He could be in the mix by the time minicamps arrive.
--DL Ogemdi Nwagbuo (ankle) and he could be back in time for training camp.
--LB James Holt (knee); his status has yet to be determined.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--DT Alfonso Boone filled a need last year but the team looks to get younger here.
--TE Brandon Manumaleuna is a solid blocker and should return -- he likes the offense.
--C Dennis Norman is at a spot where the team has depth and likely won't come back.
--WR Kassim Osgood is a three-time Pro Bowler as a special-teamer; he wants to try his luck at receiver and could flee.
--OL Jon Runyan is going to retire and run for Congress.
--DT Ian Scott doesn't have the upside the Chargers are looking for and will likely depart.
--TE Kris Wilson is a solid special-teams player, but if someone offers him more of a chance to contribute in a base offense, he's gone.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)
--RT Jeromey Clary will return but will be pushed by Brandyn Dombrowski for a starting job.
--*ILB Tim Dobbins is a solid backup after getting lapped by Brandon Siler; should return.
--*WR Malcom Floyd could likely get more passes thrown his way elsewhere, but he likes San Diego and will likely take a little less to remain here.
--*DT Antonio Garay was a late-season addition and doesn't figure in the team's plans moving forward.
--*C Eric Ghiaciuc won't have a place with the number of linemen -- when healthy -- ahead of him.
--*OLB Marques Harris is a decent pass-rusher but the Chargers will likely see him go where he would get more of a chance to contribute.
--*WR Vincent Jackson is the team's top receiver and will be brought back -- unless the team has grown tired of his immaturity; that's doubtful after two 1,000-yard seasons.
--*DL Travis Johnson will probably have to settle for less money, but the former first-round pick of the Texans might have found a home in San Diego.
--*LT Marcus McNeill is a stud at left tackle and among the team's biggest offseason priorities.
--*OLB Shawne Merriman will return, possibly, if willing to swallow his pride and lower his price tag. A motivated Merriman playing on a one-year deal could be attractive to the Chargers.
--*RB Darren Sproles isn't likely to be named the franchise player again this year and could flee if offered a long-term deal.
--*LB Dontarrious Thomas seldom saw the field when arriving late last year and appears to be a goner.
--*QB Charlie Whitehurst is learning a ton at the No. 3 spot, so he finally absorbs one more year of education and then moves on.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--OLB Antwan Applewhite can deliver a burst off the ball and is keen on special teams. He should be brought back.
--FB Mike Tolbert continues to improve and the Chargers could give him more carries in the base offense, depending on the situation at running back.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: None.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: None.
PLAYERS LOST: None.