Let’s celebrate the holiday by sharing our stories of when we became Niner fans.
I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend!
One thing the members of our community have in common is being diehard fans of the San Francisco 49ers. The readers and commenters on our site come from various backgrounds, and we each have our own unique story of when we began supporting the team.
There are differing opinions on how the 49ers can capture the elusive sixth Lombardi Trophy, and those ideas are usually shared rationally and calmly on this site (haha). But all of our suggestions and hopes come from a commonplace, which is that we want to see our team win another championship.
I was born in the early ’80s, so I was too young to enjoy the franchise’s glory days. Bill Walsh, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice helped the 49ers become the team of the decade. That run helped the Niners become of the signature franchises in the NFL.
I grew up in Vancouver, Canada and played football as a kid. One of the first video games I got for my Nintendo is one of the all-time classics, Tecmo Super Bowl.
Most people used the Raiders, mainly because Bo Jackson was unstoppable in that game, but I always rolled with the 49ers.
Montana and Rice were household names at the time, and combined with John Taylor, Roger Craig and Tom Rathman; the Niners were one of the best offensive teams in the game. The defense was stacked as well, led by Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley and Bill Romanowski. Using them in Super Tecmo Bowl made me want to watch their actual games on TV whenever I could.
Even though I was young, I remember watching those back-to-back NFC Championship losses to Dallas at my older cousin’s place. He is 10 years older than me and is also a diehard Niners fan, so cheering them on with him helped my love for the team grow.
I didn’t have to wait long to get my first taste of victory. The 1994 season was capped off by Rice, Steve Young, and Deion Sanders leading a stacked 49ers squad to a blowout win over the San Diego Chargers in the Super Bowl.
I remember thinking that I would see my team win a championship multiple times in my life, but you understand just how difficult it is as you get older. Led by Rice and Young, the 49ers were still a contender during the second half of the ’90s. My contempt for the Green Bay Packers began with those Brett Favre-led teams that eliminated the Niners three straight times.
When Young connected with Terrell Owens for The Catch II to eliminate the Packers in the 1998 postseason, I thought the 49ers were going to reach the top of the mountain once again.
I recall being at my high school for a basketball tournament during the Divisional Round game against the Atlanta Falcons and watching the game on one of the TVs in the cafeteria area. Garrison Hearst suffered a horrific ankle injury on the very first play, and the 49ers’ run game was toast. Young threw three picks, and the team came up just short.
After Young retired following another concussion in 1999, the mystique of the 49ers began to fade. Owens, Steve Mariucci and Jeff Garcia provided some hope in the early 2000s, but we were still unaware of how bad things would get under the Yorks.
The down years during the 2000s were frustrating. The 49ers missed the playoffs eight consecutive times and became a laughingstock in the league. A far cry from where the team was during the ’80s and ’90s.
Things changed when Jim Harbaugh arrived in 2011. The 49ers started the season 4-1 going into their Week 6 matchup against the undefeated Detroit Lions. I remember watching that game and the Niners hanging on for a 25-19 win. As fun as the win was, it was nothing compared to what happened following the game.
Jim Harbaugh vs Jim Schwartz
all over a freakin’ handshake y’all pic.twitter.com/Lydxmb2pO2
— Four Verts (@FourVerticals_) April 7, 2018
Those Harbaugh teams came very close to winning the sixth Lombardi. Unfortunately, the 2011, 2012 and 2013 49ers’ seasons ended in heartbreak. All three of those playoff losses were crushing. The two seasons following Harbaugh’s departure were a good reminder not to take anything for granted.
If we didn’t have the Trent Baalke/Jim Tomsula/Chip Kelly experience, we wouldn’t appreciate Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch the way we do now. The 49ers came oh so close to winning it all in 2019 but once again came up just short.
Win-or-lose, the 49ers will be my team for the rest of my life, and I am confident we are going to see that elusive sixth championship very soon.
When did you start becoming a Niners fan? Is there a particular person responsible for you becoming a fan? Or does a specific moment stand out?
Let us know in the comments below!