I was thirty years old when the Niners won their first Super Bowl in 1981, but I was a fan for many years prior to that infamous game. Many people referred to the Bill Walsh era as Camelot, due to the outstanding team the Niners were, year after year. Besides being a perennial Super Bowl favorite, the Niners were a classy organization. The majority of the players were extremely likeable because of their work ethic and how they played the game. As fans back then, we lived and died with our team. I lost plenty of sleep when these Montana and Young-led teams lost. I still cannot get over the Roger Craig fumble from the Niner-Giant playoff game in '91. I didn't feel bad for myself because the Niners lost...I felt bad for the players and the organization.
For the past 9 years we have seen Forty-Niner players and coaches come and go. For me, it was hard to get excited about the product on the field. I didn't feel the same way about many of those players as I did in the '80's and '90's. Numerous draft picks were busts, as were more than a handful of free agents that the team signed. When the Niners lost, it really didn't matter too much to me because I didn't care about the players. I never lost sleep when those Niner teams lost, because it was hard for me to connect with those players.
Which brings me to this year. I am not a prognosticator, so I don't know how this year will end for the Niners. What I do know is that this crop of players and coaches remind me of "the good old days," of Camelot if you will. How can you not like these guys? They define the "team" approach, just as the Bill Walsh teams did. These guys want to win for themselves, for their fellow players, for the coaches, and for the fans. There are no dogs on this team! Every player has a bad game, but these guys have had each others' backs every game.
I almost cancelled my NFL Ticket subscription during the preseason. How glad am I that I gave this team, these coachers, these players, a chance. I'll tell you what, my heart tells me this team can play with anybody. My head tells me maybe not... not this year. If the Niner lose in the playoffs, I will still consider this year a huge success. I won't, however, sleep very well if they do lose.
Ah, the good old days are back. Camelot!