For those of you who have been around me for a while, you probably know my 49ers fan story. It's not especially interesting, not that dramatically different than many fan stories out there, and nothing more praiseworthy than anyone else's fan story.
I was born in the late-1970s into a Navy family from Dallas, Texas, and they were devoted Cowboys fans. As such, we bounced around the western United States a lot during my childhood, until my dad's eventual retirement after I was long gone from the house. We spent three years living on Treasure Island from 1981 to mid-1984, and my parents watched the 49ers in order to keep track of how the Cowboys were doing. They, therefore, watched the 1981 NFC Championship Game, mourned when The Catch happened, and probably cheered for the Bengals in SBXVI.
After a couple of years, my mom's allegiance had shifted. Years of watching Joe Montana pick defenses apart finally converted her to the joys of the 49ers. Thanks to my dad being either at sea or at work all of the time, my little brother and I were raised as 49ers fans. My fanhood was cemented during the 1984 playoffs. We were in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and we got to watch the Super Bowl for Montana-Marino, and my dad split a Budweiser with me, a seven year old boy. I thought it was the greatest thing ever, and watching my dad scowl as I cheered for my favorite team only made it better.
Things largely remained the same for the next decade. We moved a few more times, back down to the Bay Area (this time to Alameda), then down to San Diego (look up Imperial Beach...it's the southwestern-most city in the continental United States), then up toward Seattle. It was there that I was introduced to all eleven Seahawks fans that resided up there during the Erickson-Mirer era, and I got to laugh as the 49ers won their fifth Super Bowl.
My little brother slowly began to lose his 49ers allegiance, sealed finally by the arrival of Warren Moon. I stood strong, I suffered through the endless deep playoff runs with endless losses, I came to loathe the Packers even more than I hated the Cowboys. The decline, the loss of Steve Young, then the firing of Mariucci, the release of Jeff Garcia to keep Tim Rattay, and all of the terrible coaches that followed Mariucci's firing, somehow this all made me feel more like a fan, because I had never known the 49ers to be a bad team, and standing firm became a badge of honor.
We came back under Harbaugh, then just as quickly collapsed back into laughable obscurity. I considered bailing, due to the complete mishandling of team operations by Jed York and Trent Baalke. I considered becoming just a fan of football, with no team allegiance, but then Baalke was fired, York took some modicum of responsibility for the decline, and I decided to keep the faith a while longer.
I feel that we, as 49ers fans are about to be rewarded for our faith and loyalty. The John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan era is off to a strong start, with a solid, responsible free agency period, and a potentially excellent draft to start things off. Hopefully, in the next year or two, we'll be rallying around the "Quest for Six" slogan again, and watching as Shanahan hoists the Lombardi trophy.