I got hooked on the Niners was because of my grandfather. I've got a lot of Niner-related memories with him. Grandpa, my he rest in peace, used to play Football back in college here in Mexico, and naturally, he enjoyed very much watching whatever NFL game the biggest local TV station transmitted.
Before I was born, in 1979, Grandpa decided to retire, and with the extra time on his hands, he could actually enjoy the entire season, either through the, by then, frequent transmissions on the TV, newspapers and radio. He once told me that he did not have a favorite team, but he kinda liked the Raiders.
Then came April of the next year. I was born, and by the time of week 14 of that year's season, he was baybysitting me, while he watched a team make a huge comeback led by some kid named Joe. He was hooked instantly on the way he played, and started wearing the Red and Gold, figuratively, of course.
By the time I was old enough to care for, and understand, football, I was visting Grandpa during september of 1989. He was watching the season opener vs. the Colts, and I saw him get really happy when the Niners came out with the win. Curious, I asked him about Football. He taught me the basic rules (yardage, downs, position, scoring).
So then I asked him about his favorite team. He told me San Francisco. He then proceeded to recall (and enact) The Catch so vividly, that I wanted to watch suh a great team. So, next Sunday I saw them win, and I was hooked too. This is the reason why I love beating Tampa so much, it was the first game I watched entirely, and even though I don't remember many details, we won and that's all that mattered. On a similar note, my heart broke two weeks after. It was my first loss as a Niner, and the reason I have a special, undying disgust for the Rams.
So I had the pleasure of watching the 1989 season (or most of it) with Grandpa, but most importantly, I saw the Super Bowl with him. The next year, he consoled after the Roger Craig fumble. A few years later, I called-out that Steve could easily replace Joe, and subsequently won a bittersweet bet in 1992, when the QB controversy settled. The utter, unadultered hatred we felt for the Cowboys was also groomed together. When we won our 5th SB (with the extra bonus of having beaten Dallas), I drank my first beer, ever, with him.
My grandparents had lived together for 49 years, and decided to get separated during Spring of 1999. The Yorks took over the next year, and I started having less time due to college, to watch the games. I got up-to-date thanks to the Internet. I also stopped seeing Grandpa so much, when he moved to a coastal city.
Then came 2004. It sucked well before the 49ers played a single down of the season. My Grandpa died in April of that year. I have either watched, listened to, or read about a lot of games since 1988, except for the 2004 season. It felt wrong. Caring about a Niner game in a world without Grandpa seemed unnatural.
By 2005, I started paying attention to the Niners again in his honor. I'm pretty sure he'd be pissed as hell for choosing Alex over Rodgers, as I was. I can proudly say I haven't lost track of any single game since Smith got drafted, stomaching the worst, celebrating the Harbaugh years, and feeling optimistic about Shanahan and Lynch.
I ocasionally "comment the game" with him, as if I was 10 again, and watching it together.