by Daisy Barringer
Every football fan goes in knowing that most likely, his/her season will end in disappointment. The odds of one’s team actually winning the Super Bowl are at best 1 in 32, but even then not really since there are so many other factors at play. Still, we become fans and remain fans because there’s an unspoken contract with the organization that they will do every single thing in their power to give the team give the fans the best chance for success.
It is that contract that allows us to rationalize spending exorbitant amounts of money for tickets, buying the hot new rookie’s jersey, and even more emotionally investing in a group of guys who we root for and on whom we put all of our hopes and dreams each and every football season. It is that contract that allows us to enthusiastically do the only job we can have “in” the NFL: being loyal, die-hard fans.
Unfortunately, Jed York and the San Francisco 49ers organization broke that contract in the most egregious way. And as a fan, I don’t know that I can forgive them.
First, they built a farce of a stadium 45 miles south of San Francisco. A stadium that only caters to the wealthiest of fans with its secret bars and restaurants. A stadium that for most fans is so hot thanks to the lack of shade structure that people can’t even bear staying in their seats to cheer. A stadium that looks sterile and uninviting with the only signs that the 49ers play there stamped with corporate logos. Unless you want to pay even more money to go into the 49ers museum, that is. Oh yeah, fork over even more cash and you can wander through a room full of artifacts of the 49ers from yesteryear, including the five Lombardi Trophy’s, a collection that won’t likely grow any time in the near future.
And even though the stadium is kind of crappy and really far from San Francisco to the effect that I sold tickets this year for the first time ever since I became a season ticket holder, I could almost deal with that. I get it. The team is headquartered in Santa Clara. It was easier for them to get the votes and money they need. Could they have built something that made more sense for the average fan who doesn’t poop hundred dollar bills in the morning? Absolutely. But did I understand rationally why they didn’t? Sure.
Still, people paid thousands for Stadium Builders Licenses. And then they paid even more for their season tickets. Because they believed that this 49ers team had what it took to make the playoffs. They believed, possibly, the 49ers were Super Bowl bound again. And even the people who didn’t buy season tickets, the ones who just made sure they were in front of their television every single Sunday (or Thursday, or Saturday, or Monday, OMG why is football on every single day of the week?), they gave their time and their beer money and their energy to this organization because they were lead mislead, rather to believe that Jed York and the 49ers front office actually WANTED the 49ers to have success.
Guess what though? Jed York does not give a FLYING FUCK about the fans. In fact, I don’t think he gives a flying fuck about the players. He got his stupid stadium and our thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars and now he’s over it.
How do I know this?
Because Jed York forced Coach Harbaugh out. Sure, the 49ers had an incredibly disappointing season, but despite media speculation that the decline in play was due to Harbaugh’s crappy relationship with players, that is 100% not why the 49ers only went 8-8. One can blame injuries, Greg Roman, Kaepernick, more injuries, and a myriad of other factors for this disappointing season, but I know in my heart that Harbaugh didn’t lose the 49ers locker room. Those guys love(d) playing for him. They respected him. Frank Gore said it best: ““My best years, they were with him as a team,” Gore said. “He was here and we won.”
Yeah, that’s totally what a player who doesn’t love his coach says.
And now, thanks to the fact that Jed York or Trent Baalke doesn’t want to play in the same sandbox as a guy who, admittedly, has a tough personality, the 49ers are without one of the best coaches we’ve ever had. (I’d argue, second to Bill Walsh, who incidentally the 49ers ALSO screwed over when he was stripped of his team president duties, and therefore resigned after the Niners beat the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. See also: Seifert fired after a 12-6 season and Mariucci fired after a loss to the Buccaneers in a divisional playoff game.)
Was Harbaugh angling for more money? Maybe. Um, sorry, if you can’t find a few more million to pay a coach the players and fans love and who took the team to the NFC Championship game during his first season when they hadn’t been there for the previous eight years and then to the Super Bowl the next year and then BACK to the NFC Championship, then you’re not just a moron, you’re terrible at your job AND I HATE YOU.
Originally, I wanted today’s column to be about Frank Gore. The 10-year running back had another amazing game yesterday rushing for 144 yards on 25 carries, surpassing 1,000 yards for the season, and 11,000 yards for his career. If I wanted a Super Bowl win for me, I wanted it a million times more for Frank Gore who has been the heart and soul of this team. And now Gore’s a free agent and I can’t blame him if he wants to leave to go to a team where he has a chance to win a ring. He deserves it. I don’t want to see him go, but I will understand if he does. For now, I just want to thank him for everything he’s done for his teammates, coaches, and for the fans. But, just like what his son said to Harbaugh last night when Harbaugh told him “Your dad’s the best guy ever,” I also want to say to Frank, “Please don’t leave.”
I’m sorry I couldn’t spend the whole column just singing Frank’s praises. That would have been fun. That would have been appropriate. But yesterday was too depressing. The 49ers won, yes, which I guess was fine since it was clear Seattle was going to beat the Rams and win the NFC West (god, I hate the Seahawks), and I’m glad they won their last game for Harbaugh. I’m glad Craig Dahl intercepted the ball to seal the victory and immediately ran to the sidelines to give the ball to Harbaugh. I’m glad that all season long, with gestures like that, the players never stopped showing their support for their coach. I’m just bummed that Jed York is so selfish and terrible at his job that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass.
I’ve always known the NFL is about money and greed and power and politics. It was just easier to be a fan when the owners had the decency to at least pretend it was about winning.
Unfortunately, it’s now clear that Jed York doesn’t care about the people who fill the seats or turn on their televisions every Sunday. All he cares about is himself, his money, and his ego.
And that makes it hard to continue to want to support this organization. Of course, I will. I love the Niners. I wouldn’t know how to quit them if I tried. I love watching them go out every single week and play their hearts out. They go to battle for the fans and for the coaches and they deserve our support even if the owner is a total jackass. So am I going to give up on football now that the curtain’s been pulled back? No. I could never. I love it too much.
I am, however, dead set on selling my SBL and my season tickets. So if you know anyone who wants to fork over thousands of dollars to go to a horrible stadium and watch a team that likely won’t make the playoffs for many years, tell him to give me a call. Don’t worry. I won’t hold my breath. I don’t want to suffocate and die.
This is obviously my final column of the year. Sorry to end it on such a sad note. Thanks to everyone who read it. Thanks to everyone who left funny comments. Thanks to the 49ers players who tried their best. I do believe that with a healthy defense, we might have a shot at the playoffs again (ohmygod, I am bipolar), but regardless, I don’t blame those guys for this 8-8 season. It was beyond them. (Maybe not Kaepernick, but the rest of them.) I appreciate what they did for us.
And though I know he’s not reading this, I’d like to thank Coach Jim Harbaugh for some of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve had as a 49ers’ fan. It’s been a fun ride. I miss you already. Good luck in Michigan.
And go Niners.
Daisy Barringer covers the San Francisco 49ers for SFist, giving us an insider perspective on live games. You can read all her previous columns here.