Grace period for 49ers fans long gone

By Kevin Wilson

It’s time I come to grips with it. I’ve denied it for as long as I could, but I guess you have to hit rock bottom to fully realize your shortcomings.
My problem isn’t with alcohol, or smoking, or playing too many video games. It’s a question of loyalty, and what it now means to me.
I, Kevin Wilson, of sound mind and body, am a fan of the worst team in football, the San Francisco 49ers.
Actually, I don’t think that last sentence had meaning. Let’s make it four sentences instead. The San Francisco 49ers. Worst. Team. Ever.
The 49ers have a long and storied history, with five Super Bowl victories. Long before John Elway was considered a winner in Denver, he was on the short end of a 55-10 drubbing by the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV. You better believe I loved that one, especially after the Broncos jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the best joke from that game because this is a family newspaper.
(I can, however, recount another one. Did you hear the L.A. police arrested John Elway? They were looking for a slow-moving white Bronco.)
Through all the jokes, and all the joy, I was there for the 49ers and they were there for me. There was the game-winning drive in Super Bowl XXIII, where San Fran had to drive 92 yards in three minutes, and Joe Montana was calm enough to spot John Candy in the crowd.
There was Super Bowl XXIX, which was over from the time the San Diego Chargers left their hotel room that morning. Jerry Rice — no, let’s call him Jerry Rice, the greatest football player ever — split a pair of defenders on the third play from scrimmage for a touchdown. My father went into the kitchen to get a piece of cake when the 49ers kicked off, and by the time he returned San Diego was punting.
Bill Simmons of ESPN.com has maintained that after your team wins a championship, there’s a five-year grace period where you shouldn’t complain because they gave you the joy of a title season. It’s pretty obvious that the grace period has long expired, as have their bloated payrolls.
Sports are different than they were 10 years ago. Now, the 49ers play under the same salary cap as other teams. They didn’t before, instead choosing to defer huge sums of money to star players to create these super-teams. Now, most 49er players are making close to the league’s minimum salary, while San Francisco dedicates most of its salary cap total to players who have long since retired.
But to me, sports are different than they were 10 days ago. Back then, I could argue that the 49ers got a few bad calls in the Halloween game against Chicago, or I could argue that they had come within a two-point conversion or a field goal in a few early games.
Now, it’s official. With a 24-17 loss (at home) to the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco is alone with one win. I can’t deny it anymore, and I only wish I could help.
All I can do is make my stance clear. I’m the best fan ever, for the worst team ever. Hopefully, there’s some kind of grace period associated with that.

Kevin Wilson is the managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. He can be reached at 356-4481, ext. 33 or by e-mail:
Kevin_Wilson@link.freedom.com