I was born in 1974 so the first football teams I became aware of were the Steelers (Mean Joe Green and the Coke commercial), the Cowboys (Roger Staubach) and Dolphins (cause I loved Dolphins). The first Super Bowl I watched on TV was Eagles-Raiders. I gravitated to loving football early in life. I cried when a big news story, I think it may have been an update on the Iran Hostage Crisis, interrupted a Sunday morning football telecast. I remember playing pickup games with older neighborhood kids when I was in kindergarten (and was better than most of the older kids-which reinforced my interest and enjoyment). But the first NFL season I sat down every Sunday and Monday night to watch football with my dad was the 1981 season.
There was no way at that point in my life I was going to end up being anything other than a 49ers fan. My dad (who sadly passed this January), who was very much larger than life to me as a kid, was a lifelong Niners fan who grew up in Redwood City and told me stories of watching 49ers practices as a kid. Combining that with watching Joe Montana and the 49ers go 13-3, watching the NFC title game and the Catch to beat the Cowboys and then beating the Bengals in Super Bowl XVI in that 81/82 season and it was the birth of a fanatic. Nearly every Sunday (or Monday) from that season until I was in my mid 20's and married was spent with my dad watching football and the Niner games. And much to the chagrin of my wife I still park myself on the couch every Sunday to do the same.
It was easy to be a Niner fan in the 80's/90's and I'll admit I was a bit spoiled. Niner losses affected me way more than wins. I wouldn't read the paper or watch the news until about Wednesday (when they would start talking about the upcoming game) after Niners losses cause I didn't want to be reminded of the loss. Then came the 2000's and losses and losing seasons were the norm and I think I had to learn how to be a true fan. But even during the Erickson/Nolan/Singletary years I never missed watching a Niner game, I never turned off a game no matter how bad we were losing, I've never stopped being a fan of the team. Then there was that 3 year run that tasted so much sweeter because it felt like my childhood again where we were one of the best combined with the appreciation of the winning I'd learned in that terrible decade of Niner football. Hopefully that feeling will come back sooner than later.