clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

My improbable journey to Niners Nation

“How did you get here?” is a question I ask myself just as much as I’m asked by others.

Fooch’s note: Jennifer Chan has been writing for Niners Nation in some form or fashion dating back to 2015. She started out with FanPost content about various player events, and eventually moved into a beat writer role. She attended training camp, home and road games, the NFL Draft, and the offseason workout program, representing Niners Nation.

But as they say, all good things much come to an end. Jennifer has been hired for a role with NBC Sports Bay Area in which she will work with Matt Maiocco to boost their 49ers coverage. This has been in the works for a couple months now, and it finally got settled over the past week. It is tough to lose her, but I think this is the best opportunity for her at this point in her career. I wish nothing but the best to Jennifer as she moves on to bigger and better things.

Her departure opened a hole in our coverage — specifically our on the ground coverage in Santa Clara. Coincidentally enough, as Jennifer was preparing to depart, I connected with Niners Wire writer Rob Lowder about a writing opportunity. He has had a game and training camp credential with NW. He is now moving from NW to NN! Rob will take over as our writer on the ground at games, training camp, and more. He has put together this intro and I look forward to what this season and beyond brings with our coverage! Welcome, Rob!

There’s next to nothing about my past that would lead you to believe that I’d eventually be writing about the San Francisco 49ers. Sure, I’ve been a fan since Steve Young was throwing to Jerry Rice, but the other half of the equation didn’t materialize until I was well into my twenties.

The improbability began with my degree in art from Fresno State. I’d been drawing since I could hold a pencil all the way through high school, so it only seemed natural to pursue some form a career in the same. I chose graphic design — logos, websites, that sort of thing. I knew better than to become the next starving artist.

My fondest memories of Fresno State were spent in the student section of Jim Sweeney Field admiring the Mountain West-winning handy work of Derek Carr and Davante Adams. I decided to get a closer view of the action and become part of the push-up crew, tasked with pushing out the point-total in the end zone after every score. The catch? I had to join the military.

No, of course that wasn’t my motivation. Halfway through college I decided I felt obligated to serve my country. Before I knew it, I’d spent three years on Fresno State’s push-up crew with other Army R.O.T.C. cadets. Upon graduation, I was quickly shipped off to El Paso, Texas for what would be three years of active duty Army life as a commissioned officer.

I was in charge of 40-something soldiers and all of them knew my true colors. My three years spent in Texas coincided with an incredible 49ers run that included the greatest playoff game I’ve ever seen — Saints at 49ers — the following season coming up five yards short of San Francisco’s sixth Super Bowl victory. My commanding officer was a Packers fan. I’ve got a photo on my Facebook of him draped in 49ers gear thanks in large part to Colin Kaepernick’s repeated domination of Green Bay.

When my obligation was complete, I headed home to Central California. Rather than return to the arts, I decided I’d follow in my parents’ footsteps and enter into education. In a two-year span, I obtained two different teaching credentials and a masters degree. This is where I began to realize that writing wasn’t so bad. I was in an accelerated program that required multiple essays per week. As writing became easier, I began to ponder the idea of combining my passion for the 49ers with my newly discovered skill.

So I took to Twitter to see who’d be willing to take on what we all refer to as a developmental project. Luckily for me, Niner Noise’s Peter Panacy was too nice to say no. I appreciate his patience for what was far from a polished product, but moreover for providing me with the platform to express my undying draft crush for then Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner. At least Trent Baalke got that one right.

Then came Niners Wire under Chris Biderman, who recently became the 49ers beat writer for the Sacramento Bee. It was under Chris that things really began to progress quickly. He taught me the intricacies of not only writing words, but covering the 49ers in a way that did justice to the both the role and the readers. I took my first step into the press box and on to the practice field with Niners Wire. It’s a time for which I’ll be eternally grateful.

Now here I am, a middle school art teacher, football coach and veteran that managed to become Niners Nation’s newest 49ers beat writer. Elbow grease. That’s all it was. Despite what began as a glaring lack of experience, I decided this is where I wanted to go so I put in the time and effort to get there. I like to think the improbability of it all makes it that much more enjoyable.

I’m eager, so let’s get this thing started. I want to make my first article on Niners Nation that’s not about me, about you – the reader. Send me your questions, whether through the comments or on social media, and I’ll pick all I can to create my first 49ers mailbag post. After all, if you got this far, you deserve some recognition.