Welcome to the refreshed Niners Nation! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
SB Nation’s blogs are getting a refreshed look today and as part of that we’re going back to our roots and writing about why we are fans of our teams. For all of us at Niners Nation, that’s the 49ers. I thought I’d write up my own reasons, but also post the “origin stories” if you will, for some of our front page staff.
I grew up in Las Vegas. My dad is a Patriots fan, but we focused more on baseball in the 80s. I had become a John Elway fan as I was starting to read more sports-related books, but then 4th grade arrived. The 49ers had last been in the Super Bowl following the 1984 season, before I really remembered much about sports. In 1988, the 49ers were on TV a decent amount where I lived, and I found myself becoming a fan of them, and Joe Montana in particular.
That winter, I got a 49ers t-shirt for Christmas. My fourth grade teacher happened to be a Cincinnati Bengals fan. Somehow that is the first real instance of my own trash-talk. I think having something resembling a friendly rival in my teacher somehow made me that much more excited to see the 49ers win the Super Bowl. They would go on to win that year and the following year, and I was hooked.
Born in 1979 and having not grown up in the Bay Area, I will readily admit my 49ers fandom began as part of the bandwagon. I suppose like many fans around my age, I really made my bones in the 2000s when the team went south in a hurry. As long as I had remembered, the 49ers were a great team. Things started going south in 1999, and after a brief resurgence in 2001 and 2002, dark days set in.
Fans of the team prior to the Bill Walsh era will laugh at that given the teams struggles for extended stretches in the 60s and 70s. But given how many of us became fans when the team was on top of the world in the 80s and 90s, it creates a big difference in the older fans and the younger fans. It makes for an interesting dichotomy.
I have been a 49ers' fan for well over 30 years, and not having the luxury to be born in the Bay Area, let alone the state of California, or having any family members that are 49er fans, I became a 49ers' fan by choice early on in my childhood. The choice was an easy one, a solution to choose and adamantly follow a rival team in order to vigorously combat my older brothers' forceful attempts of indoctrinating his disturbing and distorted love of the Dallas Cowboys onto me - I was forced to sleep in a Cowboys' themed bedding for crying out loud. So technically, my 49ers' fandom was born out of sibling rivalry; nevertheless, it's a badge of honor forever ingrained in my fiber and coursing through my veins. Proudly representing the Faithful in enemy territories.
The 49ers were the first professional-sports franchise based in San Francisco. My parents, Bay Area Natives, were among the first fans when the team started up. In my family, sports fandom was part of our daily life. We didn't watch regular television shows or series like other families. We watched sports. We went to games. We spent hours playing outside with KNBR live in the background. Other than the occasional hunting show, or perhaps news expose, I grew up with the 49ers.
When it came to the 49ers, I was not given a choice. Rooting for another city would not have been tolerated. My parents were die-hard 49er fans, even my mother. I know many women can claim to be hard core and my mom was no exception. She could explain a blocking scheme or defensive sequence better than most men.
One of my earliest memories is of my mom jumped up screaming. Then, my dad grabbed my sister and me in his arms. We hugged so tightly. I remember not being able to breathe. I remember tears coming down the side of my mom's face. And, I recall my dad's smile and his persistent kisses on my forehead. Oh, and so many high fives. My parents later explained the memory as, "The Catch" - Dwight Clark's incredible grab in the back of the end zone to beat the Cowboys, which effectively began the 49ers dynasty.
Looking back, I was spoiled in a sports-sense. From that memory on, I went on to watch my team win five championships. Maybe good things are wasted on youth. Those were glorious times. Following the 90s, it was pretty rough. I still cannot really talk about it much. But, no true fan abandons her roots. I could never change my loyalty. I am so proud of my sports heritage. My parents were amazing teachers and encouraged everything they loved. And, they really loved the San Francisco 49ers.
I have been a 49ers fan since I was a little girl who traveled to Candlestick Park from Los Angeles with my family of Rams fans for the NFC Championship game between the Rams and the 49ers. Somewhere in the second quarter, I turned to my mom and said, "I love Joe Montana." And that was it. I have a been a die-hard, forever Faithful, gold-blooded fan ever since.
I always thought football was dumb. I was raised in a football-less household, and told that it was "just a bunch of dumb jocks pushing each other around." I'd catch a little bit of the Super Bowl sometimes, but never really watched the game.
I changed schools my junior year of high school, and the new school needed every living body they could get just to field JV & Varsity teams. I joined the football team, and was told to start watching as much football as I could, so I watched the local 49ers. As I started learning (and falling in love with) the game of football, one player captured my attention like no one else: Jeff Garcia. It was 2000, and Garcia was an undersized, weak armed former Canadian Football Leaguer that many people still doubted. What Garcia has in spades, though, was pure grit. He'd do whatever it took to win. On 3rd and 2, he'd sacrifice his body to punishing hits just to gain those 2 yards. It's impossible NOT to root for that kind of player. The way Garcia played the game is probably the biggest reason I'm a 49ers fan today.
Learning about Bill Walsh, and his intellectual approach to the game was a big factor too. After growing up believing that football was "dumb," discovering that it is as much about brain as brawn was a revelation. Through playing, coaching, watching, and reading about football I learned just how much intelligence the game entails, and Walsh embodied that more than anyone.
My dad was born and raised in San Leandro and was thus a big Raiders fan. When Al Davis moved the team to Los Angeles, he jumped ship to the Niners. This was when I was just two years old, so luckily I don't remember being born into Raiders fandom. I do have a photo of me as an infant in a Raiders onesie, which I keep on my phone as a reminder of how things could always be worse.
My very first football memory was watching Joe Montana throw the game wining pass to John Taylor at the end of Super Bowl XXIII. I immediately made my mom get me a Joe Montana jersey because duh. Growing up in the Bay Area during the 80s and 90s meant I formed deep bonds with the team during their glory years and followed them like a shadow. The relationship I formed with them became one of the single most important parts of my life.
How did I become a fan of the 49ers? Though my family consists of Packer and Lions fans, where I live we are a huge mix of fans. I was looking at the teams as a child one day and saw the "49ers". My little child mind thought it was cool that a team had the same number as my state (Alaska is the 49th state). So, I decided to like the 49ers.
Then there was Superbowl XXIII.
I watched the greats play. Jerry Rice. Joe Montana. Ronnie Lott. Roger Craig. But when John Taylor caught that 10-yard TD pass (Ickey shuffle THAT Bengals!), it cinched it for me forever more. As I learned more about the team I grew to love them even more.
I do like watching other teams play. I have a lot of respect for the Packers. I have a love/hate relationship with Seattle (was my AFC team until things got jacked up and they were moved to the NFC West). But I am as much a red and gold-bleeding 49er fan as I was during Superbowl XXIII.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
So I grew up in the deep underbelly of Boise, Idaho. Being Idaho, there isn't much to root for except the Boise State Broncos (yuck). Beyond BSU, you sort of got your own choice of sports team. My family had no allegiances; my mother couldn't have cared less about ‘sportsball’ and my father was more into college football and still a bit miffed about the Baltimore Colts going to Indianapolis (he slowly got back into liking the Colts in the early 90s). I didn't really care for football either--but I knew Joe Montana was the man, and so was Jerry Rice and so was Steve Young. I didn't watch many football games from start to finish as a kid because I took after my mother--I just didn't like sports. I wanted to play video games (this is where my legend unfolded). I liked playing sports, I just couldn't sit still and watch a game. Now, that said, I did follow the 49ers, to an extent, but I simply liked them because I was four or five, and liked all the teams that had the superstars (that makes me a Bulls fan for basketball and Mariners for baseball).
20 years, two stints in pee-wee football as a defensive tackle and a linebacker (and still not liking it) and no maturity later, I was fresh out of college and moving to Seattle in my attempt to begin a writing career (still working on that). As I was finishing college, I found myself catching games during the end of Dennis Erickson's tenure and was still rooting for the team I loved as a kid to return. When I got to Seattle, I hit the recession and my career aspirations were put on hold. To support myself, I did what I did to pay for my degree--dealing blackjack and pai gow in local Puget Sound casinos. All I could hear about was how "awesome" the Seahawks were and how they hated the 49ers just because they were in the same division (my response: "Don't we both suck?"). At first, I thought it was just respect for the hometown team, but these guys were thinking they were going to a Super Bowl when they were 5-8. Every offseason it was "their year" and every Week 17 it was "We're gonna win it all next year." Compounding it, I was badgered regularly about my favorite team and received increased antagonism from card players. I said it was the 49ers, but I didn't really care (though I was watching it and really enjoying the strategy involved now). As time went on, the casino I worked in asked us to wear football jerseys on Sundays (and I was getting increasingly annoyed I had to work because I wanted to watch the Niners) and I proudly wore a Joe Montana jersey. More mocking occurred, and my tips went down. It was like I was a bad person or something.
Finally, I just got sick and tired of hearing about it. My fandom for the 49ers was growing, but it grew even more out of my hatred for the Seahawks and having to listen to all of this delusional hope (ok, you won a Super Bowl afterwards, you win). Just one problem, I got back into football and was watching it again regularly when Mike Nolan was coaching D'oh!
Oh well, at least you can't call me a fairweather fan. I was going rabid for the 49ers through two of the worst coaching regimes in franchise history.
Family (my mom especially) made me the 49ers fan I am today since I grew up a few miles south of Candlestick Park. We would have Super Bowl parties every year, but when the 49ers were involved the parties were just that much more meaningful. The 1st game I fully remember was the 1990 Super Bowl. To this day, I still watch that game. I must have watched that win over the Denver Broncos on VHS a thousand times. That game has more meaning in my life than any 49ers game ever. It is football at its most beautiful. Joe Montana completely dominates the Broncos formidable defense. My 1st game I ever attended was a Monday football game at Candlestick Park against the Chicago Bears in 1991. The Bears QB at the time was future 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. On that typical Candlestick night, the 49ers beat the Bears down 52-14. Steve Young was the QB at that time and he put on a master class. I have been hooked on the 49ers ever since those days.
I have been a 49ers fan since birth. My paternal grandfather had seasons tickets for over 60 years, beginning at Kezar, I have very fond memories of us attending games together from my formative years until they closed out Candlestick Park with NaVorro Bowman's Pick At The Stick. Being a season ticket holder for several decades, many people who had sat near my grandfather stopped by to say how good it was to see him at that last game. It really felt like a family. I still get a little emotional when I pass Hunter's Point and see the sign.
Ah, yes. The one question where any-football-junkie would ask. For me, I was born into it (I was born in Presidio.) However, I was a military child from my father, so we (the whole family) moved around quite a bit, depending on where we would be stationed.
As a result, I never truly experienced 49ers as personal as I would like. We eventually ended up in the Southeast U.S., so catching live 49ers games was considered luck for us. Mind you, this was before live streaming online was prevalent as it is today.
I didn’t really get full into it until 2011. That’s when I noticed more Niner games being shown nationally (hey, when you have crappy NFL teams playing crappy, the NFL tends not to give them the attention unlike say, the Patriots or Steelers, especially living on the East Coast.) That’s when they started winning a lot games, and Jim Harbaugh being Harbaugh.
Ever since the best of times and the worst of times, I’ve always been a fan and will so for the remainder of my life.
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