"The end of the road: A lifelong Niner fan's long journey to Candlestick Park"

Many of you have seen me post on here for a while, although I've slacked the last season or so, and some of you know I'm the resident West Virginian on NinersNation. I love my WVU Mountaineers, but when it comes to football, I've always been a Niners fan first and foremost. At the risk of "ranting", I just wanted to share with you guys what Sunday means to this particular Niner fan. I apologize in advance for the length if it gets away from me and such, but if you finish the read, you'll see why. I've waited my entire fan life to write this post.

I grew up in southern West Virginia, so watching the Niners live wasn't possible most of the time. I've caught them in Cincinnati a couple times, and me and my family drove to Indianapolis to play the Colts once. Since I was sick with the flu and missed the Niners-Bengals last time I had tickets (5 or so years ago), the last time I saw the Niners play live was almost twenty years ago. The last time I saw the Niners play live, they were defeated in Indianapolis, by one point, by the Colts. Even though I got to see Young throw a TD to Rice in person ((highlight of my Niner fandom thus far), I was devestated that I saw them lost such a close game. The QB of that Colts team I saw beat Young and Rice and the boys? You guessed it: The one and only Jim Harbaugh (who also threw a TD that game).

That game always bugged me. That we lost to a team I know to this day we were better than. And it happened to be the one time I got a real chance to see them while they were still dominant. I didn't like Harbaugh for years after that (breaking a kid's heart will do that), but I eventually got over it. Didn't help the ridicule I got from most of my friends, as I was the only Niner fan around and didn't have anybody to have my back in schoolyard sports arguments. I still remember defending every move the Niners ever made, which to their credit, was a LOT easier to do when I was young as opposed to high school and college. That's when the decline started. But, I stuck with them, as all of us die hards have. I knew one day, when the decline started, we'd rise back to the top. And I'd be there to see it.

Flash forward to the present. I finally hit 30, and am finishing up a Master's Degree. To do so, I've moved across the country to Los Angeles. And, being the hardcore Niner fan I am, the first thing I did upon arrival and setting up my apartment was to get online and find tickets to opening day. Luckily, I was able to to do that. I've had a couple people back out, which was fine, as I was more than prepared to travel to San Francisco on my own, and take in the game I've waited forever and a day to see. And to my delight, the QB who I saw beat my team when I was in 7th grade is the same man I will be cheering as loud as possible for when he leads the Niners on the field. Football is funny like that sometimes.

So, I've spent the last few months making films and working in LA, and watching the calendar for September 8th. At my age, you don't get too many of those "Christmas morning" feelings anymore. But today, and more so tomorrow, I will have it. Tomorrow will be different, and I think most everybody will understand this. I ALWAYS want the Niners to win. No matter what. But tomorrow, for just one day, I don't really care about the win. What I mean is, a loss by the Niners will not ruin my Sunday. I, after years, FINALLY get to see the house that Walsh, Montana, Rice, and all the others great built. Nostalgia. History. All that fun stuff. I get to see the Lombardi trophies. The end zones where all three "The Catch" plays happened. The Super Bowl Rings. I'll be like a kid before, during, and after the game. And the fact that I get to make my pilgrimage now, at the start of the final season in Candlestick, just feels "right" for me.

I hope we win tomorrow, and I hope anybody else attending has an awesome time in comparison to what I expect to have. If anybody is attending, and would like to meet up and at least exchange a high five and a "GO NINERS", feel free to let me know in the comments. I'm as excited as anything to finally watch a Niner game with other people who love the Niners. It's been a long time coming. So, let's start the quest for six. It's been a long time coming, and we are going to win another soon. We can all feel it.

If you happen to be at The Stick tomorrow, and see a guy with long hair staring blankly in amazement and wonder with a child like gleam in his eye, it's just Blank x2. He'll snap back to reality eventually. Just don't pinch him, just in case.

Be safe tomorrow, and as always, GO NINERS!!!!!!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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