Volume 1, Number 5 -- December, 1996


By Dave Lind

What in the hell is wrong in San Francisco? Not with the team, I mean, but with the fans.

The past fifteen years have brought the Niner Faithful (I use the term in its loosest sense) five Superbowls, a helluva lot of division titles (I could look it up, but I'm too damn lazy), a succession of 10-win seasons, two quarterbacks and numerous other players locked in for the Hall of Fame, and undoubtedly more joy and happiness than any football fan should have the right to enjoy in a lifetime.

Yet they complain. They complain when they lose to Carolina. They complain when Steve Young gets injured. They complain when Steve Young is healthy. They complain when he does poorly, they complain when he does well. They complain about the officiating and the play calling and the coaching. They complain about Mark Trestman and JJ Stokes and Steve Young.

Steve Young. Let me ask you Niner fans this: What has Steve Young ever done to you? I mean, other than winning passing titles and MVP awards, playing hurt, leading the team to a Superbowl win and pretty much displaying class and dignity every step of the way. Don't tell me you're still bitter because he took over the job from an honest-to-God NFL legend. Perhaps you would have felt better if Joe had given way to Bill Musgrave or Steve Bono, then you could have booed and hated the newcomer and been rewarded by watching the pretender to the throne drag the team to (dare we say it) mediocrity.

I think it is high time for a reality check for Niner fans, and I'm just the guy to do it.

REALITY CHECK #1: The only reason you hate Steve Young is because he didn't fall on his face when you wanted him too. You want to bitch about your quarterback, try doing it to a Colts fan or a Cardinals fan. See how much sympathy you get from them.

REALITY CHECK #2: Ten wins is good. Take a poll of NFL fans around the country and ask see how many of them would gladly swap records with the Niners. And don't give me that crap about "heightened standards" or "we're accustomed to winning". Spoiled is spoiled! I don't want to hear about Niner fans' woes any more than I want to bear about Donald Trump's financial. problems. Whine to me about that crap and you'll get about as much sympathy as my ex-wife crying about her dating troubles.

REALITY CHECK #3: The Niners have not been victimized by officiating. At least, no worse than any other team. In fact, the Niners get away with a hell of a lot more than most teams because they ARE the Niners. Niner fans crying about officiating is the NFL equivalent of Madonna crying date-rape. That roar you hear is the laughter of all those Raider fans across the Bay.

REALITY CHECK #4: It's NOT all Mark Trestman's fault. OK, maybe he's not the equal of Shanahan, Holmgren, or Walsh, but that's like saying Corvette isn't a Ferarri or a Lambourghini. Don't you think its possible we've set our expectations a bit high? Besides, bring any one Trestman's predecessors back and see what they can do with a patchwork line, banged up quarterback, aging tight ends, no John Taylor, and no running attack. Better? Possibly, but not much, I'd wager.

REALITY CHECK #5: Being a Niner fan does NOT guarantee regular Superbowl appearances. All good teams experience their periods of decline. This is a fact the rest of the world is comfortable with, but Niner fans apparently refuse to accept. The day will come, perhaps soon, that your team will finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs. Hey, I know it hurts, but its best if you come to terms with this fact now. It will only ease the pain down the road.

I have a friend who is a Cowboy fan (Yeah, I know. But Jesus befriended the leper, so I follow his lead... ) and when I try to taunt him with the impending demise of his franchise he simply shrugs and says, "Yeah, you may be right, but we got our Superbowls out of it." Why can't Niner fans be more like that. Enjoy your run, it was nice while it lasted. But if it's truly over, as your whining seems to indicate, accept it with a little dignity and class.

Because face it, as any Jets fan will tell you, you have no room to bitch.

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