Good day, fellow Niners fans. As you all know, today is the eve of the Super Bowl and our hated rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, are playing in the big game after defeating us 2 weeks ago. That fact still hurts, but I'm not panicked.
I saw a picture on Facebook of some 49ers fans who went out and bought Peyton Manning jerseys. They're wearing 49ers hats along with the Peyton jerseys in order to cheer on the Broncos tomorrow. While I would like to see Seattle lose this one, I won't be joining the Broncos bandwagon.
It's important we remember the context of this game, as well as a little history. As much as we hate to see our rivals playing in the big game, it's not the first time. If they win, it won't be the first time that's happened either. I remember the frustration of the early 90s. A successful transition had been made from the Joe Montana era to the Steve Young era, but our hated rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, beat us in the NFC Championship 2 years in a row, winning the Super Bowl both times. As hard as it was to swallow, our team finally broke through and won a ring. Though the Cowboys would win again the following season, it's always a special moment when your team wins the Super Bowl. We'll always have that season, regardless of the Cowboys' success in the early-mid 90s.
In 1999, the 49ers had a disastrous season. They started 3-1, but Steve Young got a concussion early in the season and would never play again, having suffered numerous concussions in his career. The 49ers would only win 4 games all season. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams would surprise everyone by going 13-3 and winning the Super Bowl, just one season after going 4-12. While some felt the Rams' move from Los Angeles to St. Louis took some of the edge off the 49ers-Rams rivalry, they were still one of the 49ers greatest historical rivals, and it was not fun for Niners fans to watch them hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
The Rams' Super Bowl win was the final blow in a season that represented a particular low point in 49ers history. A potential Seahawks victory tomorrow doesn't seem as bad by comparison. While I feel like the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry is probably the best in the NFL right now, it's important to put a little historical perspective on it. The Seahawks didn't join our division until 2002, and for much of the time since then, the 49ers struggled. This is the really first time both teams have been good enough to call it a true rivalry. Before last season, they were just another divisional opponent.
Both teams are set up well for the future, and this rivalry may be shaping up to be similar to what the Ravens-Steelers rivalry developed into. It will only intensify if the Seahawks win tomorrow, but if that happens, so what? We'll still be there, ready to play them as tough as any other team in the league. The NFC Championship game was incredibly close, and the mystique of their home stadium has considerably faded. This isn't the final say, this is just the beginning.
I have a feeling this year's draft will be big for our team. We'll have a chance to remake our secondary while adding depth elsewhere. We're starting to feel the crunch of the salary cap, but Baalke will manage it well. Things are looking up. Our window isn't closing - it's barely beginning to open.