San Francisco 49ers fans have had plenty of ups and downs during our time supporting the team. The community on this site is made up of people who have been cheering on the Niners for varying amounts of time, so there should be a wide variety of responses.
Personally, I have been a fan of the 49ers since the mid-90s. I was still in elementary school when Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders led a stacked San Francisco squad to a 49-26 Super Bowl win over the San Diego Chargers in the 1994 season.
That, of course, was the last time The Faithful experienced a championship. Since then, the franchise has only been in the playoffs in 10 out of the previous 25 seasons. The past quarter-century hasn’t been easy on Niners fans, but there are still some moments that evoke happy emotions.
Going way back, the 2002 season was a turning point for San Francisco. The current ownership group — the Yorks — took over from the beloved Eddie DeBartolo Jr. two years earlier following a scandal that forced Eddie to give up control of the team.
It was also Steve Mariucci’s final season as the 49ers head coach.
Led by Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens, Garrison Hearst, Derek Smith, Bryant Young and Julan Peterson, the Niners went 10-6 and took on the New York Giants in the Wild Card Round. The game didn’t start well at all.
Kerry Collins and Amani Toomer connected for three TDs in the first half, giving the Giants a 28-14 lead at the break. New York scored the first 10 points of the third quarter and held a 24-point lead, leading many to believe San Francisco was dead in the water.
That didn’t end up being the case.
Garcia hit Owens for a 26-yard score, and the pair connected for the two-point conversion, cutting the deficit to 16.
Garcia then ran one in from 14 yards and completed a two-point conversion with Owens once again to bring the Niners within eight. The G-Men struggled on both sides of the ball and gave up a 25-yard field goal to Jeff Chandler, which cut their lead to 38-33.
The 49ers completed the improbable comeback when Garcia found Tai Streets for a 13-yard score that put them up 39-38 with the failed two-point attempt.
New York’s offense found a way to come alive, and Collins got the Giants set up for a game-winning 41-yard field goal.
Fortunately, the kick never got off because of a botched snap, and San Francisco hung on for the one-point win.
Another great memory is the 2019 season-finale against the Seattle Seahawks. With the NFC West title (and the No. 1 seed in the conference for the Niners), both teams left everything on the field.
The 49ers were on their heels after taking a 12-point lead with 5:51 left in the game and were trying to hang on during a ferocious Seahawks rally.
Seattle trailed 26-21 and was on fourth-on-goal on San Francisco’s five-yard line with 12 seconds on the clock. Russell Wilson hit Jacob Hollister near the goal-line when one of the most satisfying moments in Niners’ history occurred.
The “clinch by an inch” gave the 49ers home-field advantage in the playoffs, which aided the team in its run to the Super Bowl.
Although both memories stand out for their own reasons, the one I think back to that made me the happiest as a Niners fan happened a decade ago.
It came during the 2011 NFL playoffs. San Francisco was a 4.5 point underdog to the visiting New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round, despite being a 13-3 team. A wild fourth quarter saw the teams combine for 34 points and four lead changes over the final 4:02.
Seeing the emotions on Davis’ face made me get a little misty-eyed myself. We had waited a long time through the dark ages of the early 2000s, and at that point, it felt like the 49ers were destined to win the Super Bowl. (Apologies for the quality embedded below. The NFL is strict with its embedded rules for YouTube videos. Here a link for a better quality video)
There a few choices for my saddest memory as a Niners fan. The horrifying Richard Sherman tip in the closing seconds of the 2013 NFC Championship game remains a touchy subject. The rivalry between the two franchises was at its peak that season, and it was widely thought that the winner of that game would win the Super Bowl.
The 2019-season Super Bowl loss felt more like a slow death than anything. The ticket prices or the San Francisco - Kansas City Chiefs showdown were way too high, so I decided to make the trip up to the Bay Area.
We lined up at Golden Gate Tap Room at 10 a.m. and waited roughly two hours before we were let in. The Niners controlled the game for three quarters before disaster struck over the final seven minutes. The Chiefs converted a miracle third-and-15 and scored 21 unanswered points to deny the 49ers their sixth Lombardi Trophy.
But neither of those losses felt as bad as the 2012 season’s ending. Led by a fierce defense and a dual-threat QB in Colin Kaepernick, it felt like San Francisco would eliminate the bitter taste from the “Kyle Williams game” a year earlier and finish the job.
Kaepernick’s record-setting performance against the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round felt like the first step towards glory. Then, the Niners came back to beat the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship after being down 17-0 early in the second quarter to advance to the Super Bowl.
Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens came out on fire against the 49ers and led 21-6 at halftime. The hopes of a comeback took a massive hit when Jacoby Jones began the third quarter with a record 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, putting the Ravens up 28-6.
Then, the power went out for roughly 34 minutes at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, allowing Jim Harbaugh’s group a chance to regroup.
San Francisco came out of the delay like a completely different team. Kaepernick led the 49ers to 17 points in a 4:10 span to cut the deficit to just five with over three minutes left in the third quarter.
Kaepernick's 15-yard rushing score (the two-point attempt failed) was negated by a pair of Justin Tucker field goals that kept Baltimore’s lead at five going into the final minutes.
The Niners drove the ball down the field and set themselves up with a first-and-goal on the Ravens’ seven-yard line. Inexplicably, running back Frank Gore didn’t even get a touch. LaMichael James had a two-yard run that got the 49ers to Baltimore’s five-yard line.
Then, three incompletions to Michael Crabtree and it was over. I was left to ponder why Harbaugh hadn’t at least tried rushing the ball one more time, even with the Ravens protecting against the run.
That loss had me feeling empty for weeks, and a part of me still isn’t fully over it.
What are the happiest and saddest moments from your time as a Niners fan? It could be from a specific game, a player being traded for/away, losing a player to free agency, or a personal memory involving family/friends.
Let us know in the comments below.