Now, you might wonder why I would have a picture of Joe Montana for an article about the San Francisco 49ers game against the Houston Texans. You might also wonder why I blame myself for the loss when I was San Francisco at the time. Let me explain:
I have two 49ers jerseys that I wear on game days. I either wear Patrick Willis, or Joe Montana. Last year, I wore Willis most game days, and would wear Montana on the ensuing Monday if the 49ers had won, proudly proclaiming the "Victory Mondays" to anyone I had Monday class with.
This season, I've decided to play the hot hand, by which I mean I would wear a jersey until it lost, then switch for the next game. I wore Willis to start the preseason and, fueled by three straight wins, continued to wear it until the 49ers lost to the Chargers in the final preseason game.
As such, I went with Montana against the Cardinals. Needless to say, I was still sporting No. 16 as a certain No. 4, who shall not be named, ended the 49ers brief winning streak with a *%^$ing insane pass that had me chucking my jersey down in between swears and slaps against the wall.
While emotionally I could take solace in the near-win against the Vikings, I knew it meant that my Willis jersey would be making its debut of the 2009 regular season the following week against the Rams.
While the 49ers did not look nearly as good against the Rams as the 35-0 score would indicate, I was going to stick with Willis, even though the Rams game was the first time I felt uncomfortable about the 49ers' performance.
Well, when the Atlanta Falcons rolled into town, I got the message. As the Dirty Birds continued to punish the 49ers, I desperately tried to change the momentum of the game. I went for an in-game switch. Willis was out, Montana was in. It was my own desperate Hail Mary to attempt to stem the tide against Matt Ryan and company.
Of course, I knew this would not work. You cannot change mojo when it is that bad, and the Football Gods decided to punish me for it.
The bye week gave me plenty of time to make a choice, and I decided to break out the classic cherry red 16 with the Hall of Fame patch on the shoulder for the first game back from the break.
This is the part where I am of two schools of thought.
The first school is that my undershirt was stifling the Montana Magic. This was not a thought I had immediately, but, at halftime, with the sun beating down on me through the kitchen window, I decided to ditch the long-sleeved undershirt for comfort reasons.
That is when things changed.
As Alex Smith came in to the second half and marched the 49ers to their first points in four quarters, I looked at the black and blue shirt that had been on me less than half an hour before. While tight end Vernon Davis struggled to get off the field after his first touchdown catch, I threw my shirt down the hamper and vowed to leave it until at least February.
As the jersey breathed free, Smith breathed fresh life into the once stagnant 49ers offense. But, clearly, I left the undershirt on for too long, and the new found offense could not overcome the deficit.
The other working theory is that, simply put, I hexed the Montana jersey. Much like a scorned girlfriend, my No. 16 was not going to let me forget my mistake. I had attempted to fool the jersey by bringing it in like a relief pitcher against the Falcons, even while knowing it was a fool's errand.
The penalty equaled the crime: one-half of football. The jersey would not work until every minute from the Falcon's game was paid off, and the 49ers simply did not have enough time to recover. For that, I apologize.
Looking ahead, I'm currently of a mind to bring 16 back next week against the vaunted Colts, but part of me wonders if I would not be better off sticking with my play-til-you-lose system and tap No. 52 for next week. What do you think? After all, I do not want to have to be back here again next week to apologize.