With a week until the greatest spectacle of the sports year is upon us, it is only right that the next team in this series would be one of the teams competing in this year’s Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers.
Earlier this season, the 49ers thoroughly pasted my team, the Bears, and this fostered both envy and contempt. I view the 49ers of the last few seasons as a west coast version of my Chicago Bears. They are a team with a long history of success, a top tier defense and a quarterback problem.
Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, you were a Troy Aikman/Dallas Cowboys, Brett Favre/Green Bay Packers or Steve Young/ San Francisco 49ers fan. The Packers were easily eliminated from contention in Chicago, and does anyone really like rooting for “America’s Team” (the 90’s Cowboys being the 2000’s Patriots). Thus, I clung to my Steve Young and Jerry Rice football cards, reserving for them spots in my no-trade section of my binder. These two players, along with hometown hero (and all-Madden team) defensive tackle Bryant Young, helped propel the 49ers to second favorite team status.
In honor of the Harbaugh bowl, let’s dive into the San Francisco 49ers:
History: The 49ers’ history is a hazy mess of not all that much until the one and only Sketchers man himself, Joe Montana. With the arrival of Joe and subsequently the best wide out of all time, Jerry Rice, the 49ers became Superbowl champs and household names. Montana passed the torch on to Steve Young, and with Rice and new kid on the block, Terrell Owens, the 49ers continued to be a successful team. At the time, they had that West Coast swagger, which made them intriguing to us cold weather fans. The 2000’s were not kind to the 49ers (I am sure you care to forget Samurai Mike), but look where they are now. And let us not forget “The Catch”, one of the most iconic plays in the history of the NFL.
Players: Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, andTerrell Owens—these guys are (or will be) Hall of Famers, some of the best to ever play. Their success in the 80’s and 90’s has kept the popularity of these players high. Currently, guys like this are criminally underrated— Patrick Willis, or the fantasy sleeper Frank Gore. They have built some credibility outside of the Bay Area in recent years. The Alex Smith saga has been a fun ride, but it looks like your quarterback of the future may be this Kaepernick guy. It is my opinion that a quarterback with his kind of style and swagger will make him a future star, love him or hate him. I must mention two coaches as well. The disaster of Mike Singletary (anyone remember pants gate?) and current success of Jim Harbaugh are notable.
Stadium: It is my understanding that at the completion of next season the 49ers will be moving from their home at Candlestick Park to a new home in Santa Clara. It’s always disappointing when teams move to a more open and suburban area, especially when it is not within the city for which the team is named. The current park is old, and was used for both football and baseball until 1999, which gives it a somewhat endearing quality. Only having driven past the stadium, it will be a shame that the new stadium will not be located on the water in such a picturesque area.
Ease of Adoption: The 49ers have a history of success with five Superbowls. Moreover, they have multiple Hall of Fame players, an entertaining and engaging coach, a new stadium, unique and Pro Bowl caliber players, the legend of Colin Kaepernick and a pending Superbowl appearance, and the 49ers easily earn four out of five stars for ease of adoption.