by Daisy Barringer
I’ve heard from a lot of people lately that they’re worried about me — that my 49ers fandom seems to be making me inordinately miserable. “There’s no reason to torture yourself by watching those games,” they tell me. “Come root for my team instead,” they offer. But the thing is: Being tortured comes with being a football fan. And it’s a part of being a fan we not only live with, but that we enjoy. Ideally, that torture comes in the form of close games, near-misses, and the possibility of winning it all. That’s the good kind of torture. The “pull my hair and then ignore me for a week” kind of torture.
Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of torture we’re getting with the 2016 49ers. This is more like, “You’re terrible in bed and want to drag it all out by getting brunch the next morning and then going on a hike,” kind of torture. The only fun part of this kind of torture is the actual torture itself, which is a concept that will only make sense to a true masochist Which is basically what you have to be in order to continue watching this 1-5 football team.
Luckily for you, that’s exactly what I am. So while I appreciate people’s offers to let me start rooting for the Raiders/Panthers/Saints/Patriots/Arsenal (that one I considered until I was informed the games start at 4:30 IN THE MORNING) I’m going to stick with the dumpster fire that is the 49ers. It’ll make it feel that much better when they rise from the ashes. You know, in another couple of decades or whatever.
That being said, the one thing that did make me excited to pop out of bed yesterday morning to watch the 49ers face off against the Bills in Buffalo was the fact that QB Colin Kaepernick was getting the start over Blaine Gabbert. Nevermind that the excitement was dampened by the fact that Kap restructured his contract this week, which pretty much means all he’ll be doing with these starts is auditioning for when he hits the open market next year. Unfortunately, the first part of his audition was nothing special. He looked fine. A little better than Blaine Gabbert, but that’s literally saying nothing. Of course, we all expected him to look rusty (it was his first game in almost a year and he’s coming off of an injury), so it was no surprise that he overthrew a couple of balls, underthrew a couple of others, ran the ball a bunch, and ended the game completing 13 of 29 passes for 187 yards and 1 TD and rushing 8 times for 66 yards. He still looked better than Gabbert and I think he’ll only improve as the season progresses.
Of course, his adequate performance was for naught because ohmygod the 49ers defense is a disaster. What was that malarkey?! They couldn’t stop the pass and they DEFINITELY couldn’t stop the run. I mean, I am not one to root for injuries but when it looked like LeSean McCoy might be out of the game, I was relieved only because I couldn’t handle watching him running all over the field anymore. Of course, he came back in and ultimately, the Bills ran for 312 yards total. Which — fun fact! — is the second-most of any 49ers opponent. Ever. Yeah, there is no sign of this 49ers defense from a few years ago. And there’s not going to be for a long time.
So who’s to blame for this? I mean, Chip Kelly’s obviously on the hook. And defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil should definitely be worried about job security. But, and I think we all agree, like all of the other losses this season, ultimately this falls on Trent Baalke for his defensive draft picks and Jed York for putting so much trust in Baalke. I wish they could both be fired come January, but at the very least, I think fans can take solace in the fact that it’s clear Baalke is on his way out. And if for some reason he’s not, I will bitch about it very loudly on Twitter or something equally ineffective. Because there is literally nothing else any of us can do. This team is a mess. And no one in the front office actually cares. And they definitely don’t care that we care. So yeah.
Frankly, the only highlight of yesterday’s game was how well Kaepernick handled the angry mob of Buffalo Bills fans. I’ve somehow gone my whole life without knowing that this classy fan base enjoys doing shots out of other people’s butts and lighting themselves on fire, so I was legit shocked to learn that there was a “Muslim” Kaepernick afro wig-wearing dummy in the parking lot that people were aggressively tackling. And that fans were selling t-shirts with images of a riflescope trained on “Kaeperdick.” AMERICA, am I right?
I was not as shocked to hear the crowd booing Kap when he took the field or to learn someone threw a beer bottle at him. But I was even less shocked that Kaepernick handled it all with grace and dignity. For a game that provided no highlights from the field, the only thing that gave me a feeling of hope was Kapernick’s response when asked how he felt about being considered un-American.
“I don’t understand what’s more American than fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality this country says it stands for. To me I see it as very patriotic and American to uphold the United States to the standards it says it lives by.”
In five, ten, twenty years, no one will remember a single thing Colin Kaepernick did this season on the field. But I’m okay with that as long as we never forget what he did on the sidelines.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wish we were ALSO winning, but a girl’s gotta take what she’s given. Even if that means mediocre sex and bad brunch conversation. Or something like that, anyway.
Next Week: The (2-3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers could actually win. They probably won’t. I’ll be at the game self-medicating either way.