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Monday, January 20, 2014

49ers Play Poorly, Lose. And There Was Much Lamenting.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 12:30 PM

  • Onward

During Sunday's NFC Championship Game, Muni took the preemptive measure of pulling cable cars, trolleys, and electric buses off the street in anticipation of riotous Niners fans celebrating a trip to the Super Bowl via destruction of municipal property. 

So, if you're desperately seeking a silver lining to yesterday's tooth-grinding, sphincter-tightening, 23-17 loss to Seattle, there's this: It appears Muni vehicles are no jankier today than they were yesterday due to the actions of idiot football fans or not. 

Well, there's that. 

And yet, watching Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman fulminate like a professional wrestler could induce even the most civic-minded do-gooder to glance about for a municipal vehicle to deface. As can helplessly witnessing the 49ers gratuitously piss away opportunity after opportunity and buckle at the very moment they needed to stand firm. 

Despite three fourth-quarter turnovers, San Francisco was in a position to win this game. Despite transcendently mediocre play, the title was there for the taking. Knowing that makes it ache all the more. But it's not a complex situation: When you play poorly, you tend to lose

The popular perception is that 49ers fans have been spoiled by success. That may have been true 20 years ago, but, with the passing of each new year, those memories do seem to grow dimmer and dimmer.  

More recently, fans are left to deal with the ignominy of stalling out at the 5-yard-line in last year's Super Bowl, spectacularly fumbling away a trip to the big game one year prior, and many seasons of utter and total futility unredeemed even by Coach Mike Singletary talking like a third-rate comedian's country preacher character while wearing a cross around his neck large enough to actually use in a crucifixion. 

Even during the good times, there were bad times. San Francisco eluded Troy Aikman and the Cowboys in 1994, but certainly didn't get the better of Dallas or Green Bay when it most counted. Similarly, those with long Championship Game memories can recall Roger Craig's fumble in 1990; the 1983 iteration of the team losing out to Washington on a tough call; or three consecutive losses in the title game in the 1970s during the Kezar era. 

Subjecting oneself to failure is the price of hoping for success. It's in the rules. Or, as we put it two years ago following a similarly disillusioning Championship Game loss

Fans are perfectly capable of understanding the 49ers treated us to a spectacular season, but simultaneously realizing the team pissed away its most crucial game at its most crucial moments. To immediately attempt to smother real disappointment with cries of "wait 'till next year!" and "What a great season!" strikes me as a bit juvenile. The 49ers are a team of adults being rooted for by adults. And handling disappointment -- in an adult manner -- is something adults must do. 

"What a great season!" is a bit akin to "Who wants ice cream?" Ice cream is great, but it's not exactly a responsible way to cope with your problems (unless your problem is not having ice cream). 

It's understandable that people are averse to pain, but sometimes pain is good, if not desirable. Pain is authentic. Pain is necessary. And, here's the kicker -- pain is in the fine print. You signed up for this when you took a rooting interest in a team. Question why it hurts so much, and you'll end up questioning why you choose to care at all about the wiles of a multibillion-dollar business that employs young men to beat each other into dementia over an oblong scrap of leather and extort cash-strapped municipalities out of vast sums of money.  

We'll have plenty of time to rationalize this and move on. But, in the near term, it breaks your heart. 

It breaks your heart because it is designed to break your heart. 

Alas. Next year in Santa Clara! 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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