Today was an amazing day for me. I grew up a 49ers fan and being in the middle of all that happened at Candlestick today was simply amazing.
Here’s a little background on me as a 49ers fan. I started watching football (and understanding it fully as a sport) back in 1991. I was 5 at the time but it was a good time. Steve Young was playing well (and is my favorite 49er of all time) and he was leading the 49ers to great things. I think my dad is the one that I credit the most for my love of the 49ers.
When my dad came to America from Hong Kong in 1981, he didn’t know anything about football. That year, the 49ers would end up winning their first Super Bowl and right then and there, my dad would follow the local team. He fell in love with Joe Montana (as most people of that generation did) and when he taught me football, he was lilke the older crowd. He wanted me to fall in love with Montana and not Young. He would try to convince me to write letters to George Seifert to bring Montana back. But Young was my guy. I didn’t want to say no to him.
By the way, I love my dad very much and football is one of the things that I hold dear to my heart because we enjoy watching it together.
So when Young led the 49ers to their fifth Super Bowl win, I was crazy excited. Then the Catch II happened and the comeback against the Giants happened and I was all out of control. It was great to be a 49ers fan. (I still a have a lot of my 49ers memorabilia sitting at home.)
Then the lean years came and it was hard to watch. It got to the point where I didn’t feel bad missing a game. It was just really tough times. But in my heart, I hoped and hoped that the team would finally get it turned around.
In 2007, I got a chance to write about the team for this new sports blog. That helpedme get in the doorway of the online 49ers community and in two years, I got to cover the 49ers games. It was surreal. I got a chance to cover the team I love. But the tough part about it was that I wanted to be a writer that didn’t have bias or favoritism. So it got hard for me to try to write objectively.
But as I started to cover the team, I started seeing the 49ers in a different light. They weren’t my favorite team anymore. They started to become work. But I didn’t want it to take away my love for the team. But on several occasions, it felt that way.
Part of it came due to the losing. Another part was that I would get stressed out trying to put together the stories and everything that came along with it. I still loved the team, but seeing all the stuff that happens within the organization, the players and everything else, made it different for me.
I still wanted the 49ers to do well. I really did. And as the 49ers transitioned into the Harbaugh era, I felt a sense of hope. As other 49ers fans did, they felt that the team was getting itself going in the right direction.
I think what really stood out to me was the fact that I get to see the players every day. This year was the first time that my schedule allowed me to be at the team headquarters daily and I got to see everything that went inside the buildings. I got a chance to know the players a little more. I got a chance to know them as people.
Every day I get a chance to cover the team in the locker rooms, I see a little bit of each player’s personality. It’s come to the point where players start to become people to me.
It’s cool when Vernon Davis smiles and waves hi to me. It’s cool when Bruce Miller asks me to come to his locker to check out the new hat he bought. It’s cool when Donte Whitner thanks me after an interview, when it’s usually me the reporter who does the thanking.
These players now aren’t players to me anymore. These guys are now people I work with. These are the guys I see every day working their tails off trying to win. I see a side of these guys not many people get a chance to and it’s a blessing.
So when the 49ers officially clinched the division title, I was crazy happy. The little kid inside me was jumping for joy. I brought my camera to the field to try to snap as many photos as I could.
At the same time, I started to realize that the people I see every day are smiling — and that is something special. I guess it didn’t hit me until I saw Frank Gore with the flag waving it around. The smile on Frank’s face cheered me up and reminded me that the guy that I see and talk to every week is experiencing something he’s been trying to achieve for six years.
I was happy for Frank because he deserved it. I was happy for Frank because I’ve seen him work hard every day and he finally has reached something that had eluded him. To me, that was really cool.
I’m just happy. It was a really cool moment. The kid inside me was jumping up and down. The writer part of me felt happy that I had a good story to write. And seeing all these players that I work with every day celebrate their accomplishment, that’s just the icing on the cake.
This fun ride isn’t over yet. I look forward to the remainder of the regular season and my first ever chance to cover a playoff game. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.