by Daisy Barringer
The 49ers kicked off their football season yesterday with a pathetic, but totally expected, loss to the Carolina Panthers. The issues were nothing new for this team; everyone’s performance — from the head coach to the quarterback to the offensive line to the secondary — was mediocre and totally uninspired and it proved what everyone in their right mind already knew: Bringing on a new head coach and GM doesn’t mean a whole lot if the talent on your roster just isn’t there.
To be fair, it was just the first game and there still is a lot of football to be played and a lot of time for these guys to prove themselves... And since I didn’t know who half of them were (only 16 of the guys on the 53-man roster played in Week 17 last season), I should probably be more open-minded and give ‘em a chance. Though if they were trying to impress me from the get, they failed miserably. Even third-year player Jaquiski Tartt’s brilliant one-handed interception was minimized by the fact that he was burned for a touchdown and penalized for a hit on a defenseless player. (Though, I mean, it was still an awesome interception and I’d like to see a lot more exciting stuff like that in the weeks to come.)
The truth is, though, that even though the Niners looked terrible, I found I wasn’t able to muster up the same amount of passion and disappointment I usually feel when we suck. A part of it is, of course, that dreadful, boring games are now just par for the course (sorry to mix sports metaphors). But a bigger part of it, for me anyway, is how conflicted I am about watching NFL football at all.
A few months ago, I said that if Colin Kaepernick didn’t have a home on a NFL team at the start of the season, I would have a very difficult time watching any games. I guess a part of me naively believed that owners and coaches cared more about winning than their racist ideology That, sure, Kap wasn’t the very best QB who was looking for a job, but he sure as hell was far from the worst. (One could argue — and probably win the argument — that Kap is actually better than a lot of the guys who started yesterday. Looking at you Blake Bortles, Josh McCown, and um Brian Hoyer.) I thought, someone will have to sign him because it’s just too insane not to when so many teams need a qualified backup.
And yet, here we are. While we were all watching football yesterday and guys who aren’t as good as Kap were getting paid hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to be on the field, Colin Kaepernick was tweeting about the awesome backpacks he donated to the Lower East Side Girls Club of New York.
Because the NFL is run by ignorant racists. And so Kap doesn’t have a job.
Which leaves the rest of us with a huge problem. More than one, actually
How can we continue to support a league that would ostracize a black man for speaking out about racial injustices?
Or a league that won’t hire a man who protests against racial discrimination, but will hire all of the men who beat their wives and girlfriends
Or a league where almost 25 percent of the owners donated $1 million each to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee
Or a league that is seemingly denying the devastating reality that is CTE? (A recent study found CTE in the brain of 110 of 111 deceased NFL players, but Roger Goodell is going around telling people that NFL players have a “longer and healthier” lifespan.)
The truth is, the NFL is enormously problematic. And watching the games now feels a little gross.
And yet, there I was yesterday, sitting on my couch, beer in hand, “cheering” on the 49ers.
Yup, my couch. Not my seat at Levi’s Stadium. Confession: I sold my SBL (at a loss) and am no longer a 49ers season ticket holder. I wish I could say that it was in protest of everything I just outlined, but the truth is that I just hated going to Levi’s Stadium. Not because we suck — I was a season ticket holder at Candlestick for some brutal seasons — but because Levi’s Stadium feels like a haven for the Devil. Literally, in that the heat on a sunny day is so intense that it makes it impossible to even pretend to enjoy the experience, but also metaphorically in that Levi’s has no soul. (It says a lot that the most fun I ever had there was at a Taylor Swift concert.)
Ultimately, it just wasn’t worth it for me to continue forking over $3000+ every year, so that I could drive my ass down to Santa Clara for 10 football games and spend even more money on parking, food, and beer, when I’d much rather be watching on television. Plus, do you know how hard it is to find a friend to go to a Niners’ game these days? I’d have more luck if I were inviting people to come over and help me do my taxes while serving them vegan food and near-beer.
So yeah: I sold my 49ers season tickets and I basically hate myself for continuing to watch football.
I’m a real joy these days!
But despite the fact that the Niners aren’t doing anything to change my mind, I’m going to keep watching. For now. And I promise that since I’ve now unloaded all of my dramatic thoughts about the whole thing, I’ll stick to what’s happening on the field going forward. Or try to anyway.
Speaking of, before I lose your attention altogether. Here are just a few thoughts about yesterday’s game, which frankly only deserves a few more minutes of our time.
- Jed York has to solve the shade issue at Levi’s Stadium. The world wants to think that the seats were empty because the fans suck, but I can promise you that it’s actually because when it’s 95 degrees in Santa Clara, it feels like 110 degrees in Levi’s. It’s completely unbearable. And while we all know that Jed York doesn’t actually care about the fans, it’s really unfair to the players to ask them to go out and do their best, but not even give them the joy of having people cheer them on at home. I don’t know what it would cost to build a shade structure and I don’t care. The stadium cost $1.3 billion. FIGURE IT OUT.
- I’m not loving that Kyle Shanahan didn’t hire an offensive coordinator. Like we don’t even know if you can do one job, so why you gotta try to do two, dude? I do like that he’s aggressive (going for it twice on fourth down), but I also urge him to remember that failing to be conservative hasn’t always worked out for him in the past (ahem: Super Bowl LI). We were stopped on both fourth down attempts and the Panthers scored field goals on the ensuing drives.
- Our offensive line looks dismal. Hoyer was sacked four times (with one forced fumble) and didn’t have much time for the passes he was able to get off. Something’s gotta change there fast.
Listen guys. It’s going to be a long season. My prediction is that we win four games. Maybe five. (But probably just four.) And next year we might not win many more. Because as long as this season’s going to be, it’s also going to be a long rebuilding process. And we’re just getting started.
But remember: When we are good again years from now if our fandom is somehow still allowing us to override our moral compasses we’ll look back on this endless slump and be proud of ourselves for sticking with it. We’ll be able to say we stuck with the team even during the darkest days.
If the NFL still exists by then, that is.
Next Week: The 49ers travel to Seattle to play the 0-1 Seahawks. Seattle definitely showed they have some issues in their loss to Green Bay yesterday, but none of that will matter on Sunday. We’re definitely going to lose. But I’ll try to be perkier.