Sunday, October 11, 2009


Unfortunately, this isn't a post about Full Force's greatest song ever. It is, however, a post about the stupidity of being a "faithful" fan of a pro sports team.

For better or worse, I'm a lifelong 49ers fan. As such, there were some really good times when I was kid during the 80s, and what is probably my favorite sports season of all time (the 1994-95 NFL Season) culminated in my fondest pro sports memory - watching the Niners' Super Bowl parade on Market Street while sitting on top of a Muni bus stop. Over the last decade or so things haven't been so great and I probably haven't been as vociferous a supporter of the franchise, which probably makes me a typical Niners fan. In fact, a common "insult" flung at Niners fans is that we're "fairweather fans", which has nothing to do with any songs by Johnny Gill. Quite often, the people tossing those insults around are fans of the other NFL team in the Bay Area. I think this is also a reflection of the common stereotype that Niners fans are from one tax bracket, while Raiders fans are from another altogether. I think the two are not entirely unrelated. Personally, I think being a "fairweather fan" reflects that a person is somewhat rational and intelligent, and doesn't blindly follow dysfunction and repeated failure against all common sense. I would tend to believe that living your life that way leads to more successes than failures, not that I necessarily know from experience.

Having said all that crap, the real reason I'm writing on this topic today is that the stupid Niners got raped by the Falcons today. This is the same 49ers team that took the Vikings, a consensus Super Bowl contender this year, to the limit. The nature of that loss to the Vikings broke a lot of fans' hearts, but it also reinforced the relatively common sentiment that the team was on the cusp of actually being a good football team. Then today happened. 

Today's game was truly awful in every regard. Either today was an anomaly, like the biggest anomaly ever in the history of anomalies; or we just witnessed the end of the smoke and mirrors Samuari Mike coaching experiment. The latter is inevitable, of course, but even the most cynical fan (me) wouldn't have suspected that the end would come in Week 5 of the 2009-10 NFL season. In reality, it is probably neither of the above scenarios, but a mix of the two. 

Surely, the Niners can't be this bad. Right? They beat the defending NFC champs. They hung with the Vikings. They annihilated the lowly Rams. But, I'm pretty much entirely convinced that Singletary isn't much of a head coach. He seems all cheerleader, and not much game planner. I've always thought that when the Niners were confronted with an imbalance in talent and/or coaching acumen, they would crumble like Mexican pastries. It seems that happened today. The defense couldn't handle Atlanta's talented offense at all. The entire team looked lackadaisical, unmotivated and completely unprepared. I fault the coaches for that. If Singeltary's strength is motivation, then he failed miserably. If he is supposed to be a disciplinarian, then he also failed miserably in that regard, as evidenced by Glen Coffee not being on the field for a crucial play in the first quarter, all the stupid penalties the Niners were flagged for, and Dre Bly's idiotic showboating after making an interception - near midfield.

This all brings me to the issue of being a "faithful" fan. This incarnation of the Niners has done nothing to inspire faith. Nobody in the organization has done anything in their professional careers that leads me to believe that this team will be successful. Not fat-faced, bratty Jed York. Not Scot McCloughan. Maybe if this was the 1980s and Singeltary was playing linebacker, but as a coach, Singletary hasn't really done anything. I'm not 100% sure, but have any players on the current roster had any success in the NFL in terms of winning games? Certainly none of the homegrown players have, and I can't really think of anyone brought in via free agency who comes from a winning organization. I could definitely be wrong about that, but I really don't feel like researching it right now. 

I will continue to watch all the games, likely from the comfort of my living room, and I'll hope that the team wins, but I will also continue to temper my hope with the reality that this team probably shouldn't win. Does that make me a bad fan? Maybe. Do I really care? Not at all. If the team loses, I can always say "I told you so", and I won't have to worry about being let down. If the team wins, I'll be there to bask in the glory and I'll be just as excited as all the "49er faithful". Leave faith and blind obedience to Raider Nation and the German citizenry of the 1930s. 

By the way, that term "49er faithful" is entirely manufactured by the Niners marketing folks to sell tickets and merchandise. Real Niners fans aren't faithful, we're smart.