by Daisy Barringer
Yesterday was a perfectly glorious San Francisco day, so I hope you did anything other than watch the torture that was — for the second week in a row — nearly four hours of 49ers football.
It was never going to be an exciting game. Going in, the 49ers had zero wins and the Colts had one. Neither team is playing great football. And for three excruciating quarters, neither team did. Things heated up in the fourth quarter when the 49ers managed to erase a 14-point deficit and tie the game, but ultimately, the offense as unable to make anything happen in overtime, and the Colts won 26-23 thanks to a 51-yard field goal by Adam Vinateiri.
Unlike previous weeks where at least one half of the team showed up, this week both our offense AND our defense seriously struggled. The Colts entered the game last in the league in scoring defense, which you’d think would help us out, but no. I mean, it’s not Brian Hoyer’s fault he’s a terrible quarterback who has been asked to lead this team, something he’s clearly totally incapable of doing, but it is painful to watch. Of course, rookie backup C.J. Beathard would probably be no better, but at least he’d get some valuable experience. Why not give him that when we’re clearly playing for a first round draft pick at this point?
Speaking of, I want to say that I don’t enjoy that I am not rooting for the Niners to win (it sounds nicer that way; saying I’m rooting for them to lose is more than I’m willing to do at this moment). It doesn’t feel good to see us driving down the field in an attempt to tie the game and hoping that we fail because overtime feels like a punishment. I don’t want to root for missed extra points and sigh in exasperation when Ray-Ray Armstrong has a goal-line interception in overtime. I want to want to root for my boys. But right now, when we suck so badly, I just can’t.
And maybe that makes me a bad fan in the moment, but it makes me a smart fan — a fan who understands that draft picks matter — in the long run. The more we lose now, the better we might be in upcoming seasons. Any win at this point just keeps us from that goal. So we may as well not get any.
I understand that must be frustrating for the players who are giving it their all and doing a good job. Like Pierre Garcon who had eight catches for 94 yards, Marquise Goodwin who had five catches for 116 yards, and, uh Robbie Gould who has had to kick an awful lot of field goals this year and has yet to miss one (thanks to a poor decision by the Colts to try to ice him on a kick he actually missed).
But you guys: This is who we are now. We are a really, really terrible football team. And all we can do is rebuild. Unfortunately, rebuilding takes times. So for now, all I can root for is more interesting games—that still end with an L.
Because this is 2017 and the world is a dumpster fire, what actually made yesterday’s game the most interesting was the theatrical display put on by Vice President Mike Pence. Because people need to leave politics out of sports, Pence spent an estimated $200,000 to $250,000 of taxpayer dollars to fly to Indianapolis just so he could walk out of the game after the National Anthem.
Listen, I respect Pence’s right to peacefully protest people who are peacefully protesting. What I don’t respect is that he flew to that game using taxpayer money knowing full well he was going to walk out of it. The Colts were playing the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS. You know, the team who has had at least one guy kneeling during the anthem since the beginning of the 2016 season, and 30 of them were kneeling last week. Pence knew exactly what was going to happen and he knew all along he was going to walk out.
In case you need further proof: He also had the press pool wait in vans and had a carefully crafted prepared statement about how he and Trump “will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag, or our national anthem.”
Nevermind that last week the 49ers released a statement explaining how much respect they have for “our military and veterans who have sacrificed so much for our right to express ourselves freely” and that they made it very clear this is about protesting racial oppression and social injustice. Pence (and so many other Americans) will only see what they want. But by showing us what they see, it shines a light on who they are.
With his planned walkout, Mike Pence made it clear that his goal is to divide, not unite the American people. He made it clear that the only people he cares about are the white voters who have misread the players' protest and been misinformed about it on Fox News. He made it clear that he respects the flag — a piece of cloth — more than the people who are suffering as a result of systemic oppression.
Again, that’s his right. It makes him a despicable human, but it’s his right. But what he needs to do is own it. Don’t lie to the American people. But don’t pretend like the walkout wasn't planned all along. Don’t pretend like it wasn’t a publicity stunt intended to distract and divide even further.
If Mike Pence wants to grandstand, that’s his choice. But I want him to own it. And I definitely don’t want him to do it on my dime.
Next Week: The (0-5) 49ers play their third road game in a row against the (2-2) Washington team whose name people like Mike Pence like to pretend isn’t racist. We’re exhausted. We’re going to lose. And probably there will be more politics to discuss because that is also who we are now. It’s the one thing about this team we can be proud of this year.