Sports Illustrated writer Phil Taylor stopped by 49ers training recently and put together a column that looks like it will be appearing in the next issue of Sports Illustrated. Taylor focused in on head coach Jim Harbaugh and a bit of a look at history in discussing the 49ers. While Harbaugh is definitely his own man, he also sort of follows in the pattern of Walsh in coming from Stanford and being a creative offensive mind. Harbaugh is not quite as cerebral as Walsh, but rather seems to bring a more fired up mentality about him.
Taylor made an interesting comment about why 49ers fans have been sucked in so completely to the Harbaugh experience:
If everyone in Niners-land seems a tad overeager to believe that Harbaugh will provide some long-awaited stability and success, perhaps it's because the memory of Walsh is still part of the 49ers' DNA.
Earlier in the article he addresses the many false starts of the 49ers over the last decade from Dennis Erickson to Mike Nolan to Mike Singletary. The team has gone with different styles of coaches and none of them have found much in the way of success. Nolan and Singletary had their brief moments but could not build on any sort of positive momentum.
Now we find ourselves with the "next big thing" in the form of Jim Harbaugh. Taylor pointed to 49ers fans wanting the next Walsh but also dealing with the losing culture that has developed over the last decade. As we've hoped for the next big thing to finally break out in San Francisco, is it simply a mix of having poorly performing teams in recent years and having this great history to live up to?
It seems at times that having this great history can be a blessing and a curse all at the same time. It's been 15 years since the team won a Super Bowl and over 20 years since Walsh coached the team. I'm not really sure what I'm asking with this, but the article got me thinking about the sometimes desperate nature of 49ers fans these days. We all get sick and tired of losing and feel the franchise deserves better. This isn't about ranting and raving about the Yorks so much as how we as fans want and hope for that return to glory.
The SI article, much like this post is a bit all over the place in looking at these issues, but given this start of a new era, it seems particularly timely.