In theory, a potential fourth quarter comeback that comes down to one shot to get the ball in the end zone with two seconds remaining should be exciting for any fan to watch. But instead, as the 49ers drove down the field yesterday to try to tie the game (or win we’ll never know if Chip Kelly would have gone for two had they scored), the following things were running through my head:
- “If this game goes into overtime, I am going to kill myself.”
- “I wonder if Rory ends up with Jess or Logan.” (That’s a Gilmore Girls thing in case you spent you weekend doing something besides watching the four-part Netflix special.)
- “Maybe I’m just not that into football anymore ”
As it turns out, Kaepernick was stopped two yards short of the goal line, we never find out who Rory ends up with (though I’m #TeamJess all the way), and, well, that last one I’m having a bit of an existential crisis about it.
My passion for the 49ers has never wavered since I became a fan. It wasn’t until around 1998 that I made it a point to watch every single game no matter what, but in that time, I have only missed one game the first game of the 2000 season because I was vacationing in Santa Fe with my mother and she was definitely not going to take me somewhere to watch football considering she finds the game to be somewhat low class and was already annoyed I had a friend updating me with the score every 15 minutes.
Every Sunday, no matter where I was, I found a way to watch the 49ers. With a group of friends at a sports bar in the East Village. By myself in a smoke-filled Wilmington, North Carolina bar where they’d put the Niners on the tiniest TV with no sound because I was the only person who cared. And then, when I moved back to San Francisco at Candlestick. And then Levi’s. Whether we went 2-14 or 13-3, I was elated to watch every single game, to root for my boys, and to just be a 49ers fan.
Now I don’t know.
Don’t get me wrong. I can’t imagine opting to go on a hike instead of watching the Niners. It’s not THAT bad. (Although, I can’t imagine opting to go on a hike instead of having my teeth cleaned either, so ) But while I am watching, I’m willing time to go faster. I don’t want Torrey Smith to catch that touchdown pass to make the score 21-31 with seven minutes left to play. I don’t want Phil Dawson to kick the field goal and make it 24-31 with a little over three minutes still to go. And I definitely don’t want our defense to stop Miami so that we get the ball back with a chance to tie things up.
I mean, did I sort of enjoy that final drive? Of course, I did; I still like the game of football. But as much as I was having all of those awesome feelings of tension and torture I still just mostly wanted the game to end, the 49ers to lose, and for me to go about the rest of my day (a.k.a. watching Gilmore Girls). So when Kaepernick was stopped two yards short, instead of feeling frustrated or angry, I just felt relief that the game was over. And I’m pretty sure that’s not the feeling a die hard fan is supposed to feel when her team loses its tenth straight game in a row (a franchise record, by the way go 2016 Niners! You’re the best at something!).
I suppose I wouldn’t be doing my job here if I didn’t mention that Kaepernick had a pretty decent game his best of the season (he completed 29 of 46 passes for 296 yards and three TDs, and rushed for additional 113 yards). Perhaps without the second-half-opening interception (which is more on Torrey Smith than Kap), the 49ers actually may have won the game. Kap still made mistakes, but it’s hard not to wonder how he’d be playing if he had better receivers. And it’s definitely hard not to wonder where he’s going to be playing in 2017. Will another team even want him considering his newly found role as a political activist? A role that he doesn’t seem to quite have figured out yet
I’m not going to sit here and criticize Colin Kaepernick because I think his activism is (mostly) a good thing. But it is a fact that it has become a distraction or at least a bigger news story than anything else about the 49ers because every week there’s something new. Sometimes it’s good news (he’s donating a million dollars to charity). Sometimes it’s not (he says he’s not voting in protest, but has actually never registered in his entire life). And sometimes, it’s just a total disruption, like all of his opinions about Fidel Castro. Maybe he wouldn’t be stealing the spotlight with his off-field actions if the 49ers were actually winning games. Who knows? But one can’t help but start to wonder if these distractions are actually starting to affect his practice and performance. Then again, maybe it doesn’t even matter though. If we’re going to lose, why shouldn’t he at least be trying to do some good in other areas of his life?
And maybe that’s the problem with football this year. Perhaps I’m not excited about watching games because it feels like the world is crumbling around us. Maybe it’s hard to be excited about a team that’s only won one game because innocent people are being murdered, our government is in shambles, and, well, because it’s never as much fun to watch a football team that sucks.
There’s only one way to find out though. And that’s to keep watching. And so I will.
Next Week: The (1-10) 49ers travel to Chicago to play the (2-9) Bears. We may actually win this game, but it’s going to be a brutal one to watch.