Fans are what make the professional sports world go. Supporters of each NFL team believe they have the best fans in the entire league. Realistically, however, there are few that compare to the San Francisco 49ers fans.
Young and old, supporters of the red and gold continue to show the entire football world why they are truly the best fans in the NFL.
We hear about The Dog Pound, Raiders' Nation, The Terrible Towel and the Cheeseheads. One thing that 49ers' fans have over all of the above is a rare combination of passion, fandom and respect. They respect the history of the franchise and the game they grew to love. They have shown this during a sellout streak at Candlestick that dates back to October of 1981, months before I was even born.
Let's take a gander at 10 reasons why 49er' fans are the best in the entire football world.
One common misperception about the San Francisco 49ers fan base is that it represents a bunch of cheese-eating, wine-drinking yuppies. That couldn't be further from the truth.
While they do like to indulge in the better things in life, no not Schlitz Malt Liquor. Instead, they can definitely rage on Napa Valley Pinot and some really sharp white cheddar cheese.
Does this mean they are less passionate than Oakland Raiders or Dallas Cowboys fans? Of course not. They're just a higher class of nuts is all.
It used to be that fans of opposing teams could come into Candlestick for a good Sunday afternoon of football watching. Boy, have those times changed over the course of the last couple seasons. This has given the 49ers a tremendous home-field advantage during the short Jim Harbaugh era.
Many young fans believe that San Francisco's success began under Bill Walsh in the early 1980s, that couldn't be further from the truth. It had a hell of a history prior to the last quarter of the 20th century.
It is the older fans that keep us grounded and allow us to understand what it means to bleed red and gold. These stories consist of lessons about how Kezar wasn't the "best" place to watch a game, but that fans made the best of it and were among the most passionate in the league during those times. Sound familiar?
Passion breeds stupidity. This is a quote that I have used over and over again. San Francisco 49ers fans are not immune from this. However, it is just a select few that give the rest a bad name. In reality, 49er' fans are as passionate as they come, but also remain respectful to opposing fans that come into Candlestick.
It is the idea that you can be passionate and intimidate others without stopping down to the level of the lowest common denominator.
A perfect example of this was when San Francisco clinched the NFC West against the St. Louis Rams last season. I had the pleasure to be at that game. The 49ers blew out St. Louis to the tune of 26-0 in front of a sea of excited San Francisco fans.
That being said, there were a great amount of Rams fans, mostly coming from Southern California to watch the game. No fights broke out between fans of these two rival teams. In fact, 49er' fans showed a great deal of respect to their counterparts. More than once I heard the following, "don't worry, things will look up. We have been here before." This is the ultimate show of great fandom. Root your team on, but stay respectful in the process.
Anyone that has ever called those San Francisco 49ers fans that "seemingly" showed up in the last year or so "bandwagon" jumpers are just ignorant. The 49ers have sold out every single home game since October of 1981.
Whether it was Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan or Mike Singletary leading some really bad football teams, the faithful always showed up. It didn't matter if J.T. O'Sullivan or Rick Mirer was slinging the ball to opposing defenses at The Stick, 49ers' fans showed up and showed up in mass.
You simply cannot say this for many fan bases around the National Football League.
The San Francisco 49ers play in one of the most rundown and atrocious venues in the professional sports world. Candlestick Park is located in one of the worst areas in the city, the stadium is absolutely disgusting, the traffic in and out makes some want to slit their wrists and the wind makes it necessary to buy a large pack of chapstick from Costco.
Still, the fans show up as passionate and hungry to watch a football game than any fan base in the National Football League.
While San Francisco 49ers fans of my generation grew up during some great times, new generations came of age watching some atrocious football at Candlestick. Either way, the heralded history of this franchise enables fans to demand, heck, expect greatness.
You don't just simply see the ghost of Bill Walsh at Candlestick..You feel it. You just don't see the videos of the Joe Montana and Steve Young teams, you feel it.
Greatness is something that 49ers' fans full understand. It is also something they expect. This is one of the primary reasons that Alex Smith, and Steve Young before, drew the ire of the fanbase. It definitely puts the pressure on certain players, but that's something you have to take when suiting up for this great franchise.
There is a reason why the NFL wants the San Francisco 49ers to play in London as much as possible. They have fans clear across the Atlantic and it was obvious when San Francisco took on the Denver Broncos back in 2010 in Wimbley.
Since joining Twitter last August I have had a ton of 49ers' fans from Europe follow and remain in contact with me. A Scottish lady I chat with frequently is probably as diehard of a fan as you will come across, even to the point where she got a tattoo on her shoulder. These stories have been repeated time and again.
Is it the brand? The previous success? I am not sure. Either way, San Francisco fans travel to the deep ends of the Earth to cheer on their team. Cannot say this for a majority of fans around the NFL. Heck, some don't even sell-out on a consistent basis. Yes, I am looking at the Oakland Raiders.
Unlike the Dallas Cowboys or some other "brands," San Francisco 49ers apparel was selling even when the team was mired in a decade long slump prior to last season. Fans weren't embarrassed to dawn the red and gold even when their team sucked it up on the football field.
At a time when American's are too focused on wearing the "in" thing and keeping up with the Joneses, 49er' fans didn't care about how they looked or the heads that turned when they walked by.
Heck, I wouldn't mind my girl wearing something like this. Definitely a nice Christmas present.
One thing I continually notice when roaming around Candlestick Park during San Francisco 49ers games is the amount of avid female fans that they have.
This gender, long discounted due to the machismo ideology of the NFL, have started to make their presence known, and I couldn't be more happier.
Next time you go to a 49ers game make a point of checking out the demographics of the female fan base. They are anywhere from small children to grandmothers, who could tell you a story or two about R.C. Owens and John Brodie.
They are black and white, Hispanic and Asian and every ethnicity in between. Yes, and some of them are as hot as all get out. They just don't go for the entertainment experience either. Instead, they are as passionate as their male counterparts.
In a story that might be a little to "R-rated" for Bleacher Report, there was a young Latina fan, who probably stood under five feet tall, literally cursing and giving hell to New York Giants fans last week. A Giants' fan responded "you must be embarrassed." On the contrary my friend, this is what makes the 49er' fan experience so damn great.
If you are reading this and fall under the aforementioned category, I tailgate in Section N prior to every home game. Lets meetup and have a Bud.
This embedded You Tube video has to be one of the greatest things to come along in a great while. "The 49ers aren't going to the Super Bowl," followed by tears. It was enough for the father to hold back his laugh as his child was obviously grief stricken by San Francisco's loss to the New York Giants in January's NFC Championship Game.
Next time you go to Candlestick check out the large masses of young fans at the game. It is the idea that you breed them young and don't give them a choice to choose an allegiance outside of the 49ers.
Unfortunately, I grew up in a mixed household. My father is a San Francisco 49ers fan, while my mom roots for the Dallas Cowboys.
It is times like this that I am glad I made the right decision in the end.