(By Daisy Barringer)
For the record, I'm not much of a crier. I mean, sure, I well up during Grey's Anatomy each week, but that's basically required of all good, red-blooded Americans. I'm just doing my duty. Other than that, tears flow neither often nor freely from my ducts. Which is why I wasn't sure quite what was happening on Saturday at 10 a.m. when I was waiting for the first of two buses to take me to Candlestick. One minute I'm checking Next Muni, the next I'm looking at a picture of Coach Harbaugh on the front page of the Chronicle that's nestled in its bright yellow newspaper box, and then, these weird feelings completely take over my entire being and suddenly I burst into tears.
I suppose it was a mix of nerves and excitement, anticipation and angst, hopes and dreams all coming together in one black hole of overwhelming emotion that knew no other way to manifest other than tears. There I was. Standing at the bus stop, my 49ers cape tied firmly around my neck, weeping like a little girl. A full three and a half hours before kickoff.
I was happy at least that I managed to get it all out while I was in the relative privacy on my own neighborhood, except then the game started and:
I cried when Donte Whitner forced the Pierre Thomas fumble in the Saints red zone.
I cried when Alex Smith connected with Davis for a 49-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
I cried when Dashon Goldson intercepted Brees.
I cried when Alex Smith threw a short four-yard pass to Crabtree for a touchdown.
I cried both times our special teams created fumbles.
And I think we all know what happened when Vernon Davis caught that magical touchdown pass with the game on the line and only 14 seconds left in the 4th quarter. That's right: I cried. And cried. And cried. And cried.
But at least this time, everyone else was crying with me.
It's been almost two days since the 49ers beat the New Orleans Sainta 36-32 and earned themselves a spot in the NFC Championship, but somehow it still doesn't feel real. I mean, and I can't believe I'm typing these words, the 49ers are one game away from the Super Bowl. But yeah I can't. I mean, I believe it, but I don't believe it. You get it. And I know it's real, but it just doesn't feel real. It's all just a little too much.
That game was such an emotional roller coaster, punctuated with many highs and lows, I feel like I need to check myself into the hospital for "exhaustion" just so I can recover and recharge in time for next Sunday. I kid you not: I have NEVER been so tired as I was on Saturday night. I know, I sound old. But, like: Did you watch that game? Have you ever felt so up and so down so many times over the course of four hours?
I mean, Alex Smith had to win the game—win it not once, but twice. TWO game-winning drives from the quarterback everyone doubted. The quarterback everyone hated. The quarterback everyone booed.
That's right. That Alex Smith, the one who apparently doesn't give a shit what we think, marched his team down the field with 4:02 left in the 4th, 49ers down by one. And, when he knew he had to make something happen, took matters into his own hands, told Harbaugh he wanted to run the shotgun and he did so with SUCH determination, it was a sight to behold. The second Alex took off running and Joe Staley got that block, everyone in that stadium knew he was going to score. It was a thing of pure beauty. Heart. Determination. Pluck. Gusto. Every cliché you can think of showed up to play.
But then our defense, the only guys who in a rare moment, didn't have a great game, let Drew Brees connect with Graham for a 66-yard touchdown to go up by 3 with 1:37 left and, wow, did that feel final.
I'll be honest. With 44 seconds in the game, I sat down for the first time, put my head and my hands, and told Campfriend, "We're probably going to lose." I didn't want to believe it, but I knew I needed to start talking myself off of a ledge immediately. So I said it. Aloud. "We're probably going to lose."
Maybe Alex Smith heard me because with a deep pass to Vernon and then another short pass to Gore to put us in field goal range, he made me eat my words. We just needed three point to tie the game and go into overtime and suddenly that was an actual possibility. Not ideal, sure, but better than losing.
With fourteen seconds on the clock, Smith threw a bullet up the middle to Vernon Davis for a 49ers touchdown that will never EVER be forgotten.
The crowd. Well We went wild. And as my fellow season ticket holders turned to leave, we all said, “See you next week. Hopefully ”
But there's no more need for hope. Because it's happening.
The New York Giants crushed the Packers, which means the road to the Super Bowl? It's going straight through SF.
BRING IT. Because I am so ready. Or at least I will be after a few more naps.
Congratulations to the San Francisco 49ers. This is really happening. And (despite what it looks like with all that god forsaken crying) I couldn't be happier.
The 49ers host the NFC Championship this Sunday at 3 p.m.