10 Ways You Know You Are a San Francisco 49ers Fan
That is what 49er fans are called. In recent years, that has been pretty easy. Back-to-back successful years nearly always result in both the fair-weather and die-hard fan rallying behind their franchise 100 percent.
In the years before however, it might have been difficult to remain a 49er fan.
Nearly eight years of struggle, composed of a revolving door of coaches and players, made being one of The Faithful a difficult endeavor.
Yet The Faithful remain true to their team, regardless of how the franchise itself is performing.
While nearly any team in the NFL can state that it has the best fans in football, 49er fans are a unique bunch. They may not be as rabid or hostile as other fans across the league. They may not be as quick to criticism as fans of the Philadelphia Eagles are storied to be, nor are they as eccentric in their dress as their Bay Area rival Oakland Raiders fans appear, yet 49er fans certainly are their own breed.
There are some good stereotypes, and certainly there are some bad ones as well. Most have an element of truth contained within somewhere.
In this fun and entertaining article, here are ten ways that you know you are a 49ers' Faithful.
No. 10: You Don't Like the Raiders
I hope this stays civil. That has not always been the case.
Regardless, 49ers fans typically have two favorite teams: the San Francisco 49ers and whoever is playing the Oakland Raiders.
While not in the same division, or not even in the same conference, the 49ers and Raiders have forged their own rivalry of sorts that may be as heated as any in professional sports. On one side of the bay, red and gold are the primary colors. On the other, it's silver and black. Both franchises' fan bases do not like each other.
Every 49er fan probably knows at least a few die-hard Raider fans and there is no doubt that there is plenty of trash-talk flowing back and forth. Even when the 49ers were bad, their fan base would take solace in the fact that Oakland had struggled for a decade as well. Now, with San Francisco being good, The Faithful take even more pride in "rubbing it in" to Raider fans.
What has been funny is that there have been plenty of players who have played on both franchises. Look no further than center Jeremy Newberry or even Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott and wide receiver Jerry Rice, for example. Yet this crossover does not allow for much brotherhood among the fans.
On Sundays, 49er fans will obviously hope San Francisco wins. Then, they will hope that the Raiders lose.
It is as simple as that.
No. 9: You Hate Candlestick Park
Perhaps it is more of a love-hate relationship.
Either way, be it the traffic getting in, and out, of the park, or perhaps just how old the stadium smells and feels, 49er fans cannot wait to be out of Candlestick Park.
Candlestick opened in 1960, initially housing the San Francisco Giants. Yet the stadium became a dual-purpose field in 1971 when the 49ers moved there from their former home at Kezar Stadium. The 49ers have enjoyed, and suffered, a slough of various seasons ever since.
Joe Fortenbaugh of Sports Illustrated ranked Candlestick Park as the 26th stadium overall out of 31. It is not hard to understand why.
Candlestick Park is one of the NFL's oldest stadiums and, unlike Chicago's Soldier Field or Green Bay's Lambeau Field, there have not been a whole lot of renovations and upgrades to make Candlestick feel more modern.
As a result, the place feels like a dump, and that is putting it mildly.
Traffic to and from the stadium is a mess. The micro-climate weather is almost always horrible (just ask the San Francisco Giants when they used to play there). It can be 80 degrees elsewhere in the Bay Area and fans will still show up with jackets and blankets.
Fortunately, Levi's Stadium should be opening up just down the road in Santa Clara very soon and fans will not have to endure Candlestick for much longer.
While there may be plenty of memories within the walls of Candlestick, most fans would not want to create too many more there and cannot wait for the 49ers' new home in Santa Clara to open.
No. 8: You Are More Laid-Back Than Other Fans
This falls in line somewhat with 49er fans' relations with Raider fans.
There is the big stereotype: East Coast fans are way more intense while West Coast fans tend to be more relaxed and laid back.
While I partially agree with that statement, I also recognize the fact that West Coast fans can be just as intense and, at times, just as "in your face" as other franchise fan bases back east.
Sure, there are going to be incidents where fans of visiting teams may find 49er fans rude, crass and perhaps even violent, but the degree of intensity is significantly less than experienced elsewhere in the nation.
Take the Philadelphia Eagles fan base, for example. Eagles fans have a league-wide reputation of being harsh and critical, especially when their team is not performing well. Look at the past couple of seasons for an explanation.
49er fans can also get critical of their team, especially during turbulent times. Yet this degree is nowhere near that seen in other markets around the league.
Perhaps it's the nice California weather that creates an environment that makes life a little more pleasant in the Bay Area. Perhaps San Francisco is just not that intense of a city in comparison to Boston or Philadelphia.
Whatever it is, 49er fans do not have that aggressive and intense reputation common to most of the league.
Well, at least not most of the time.
No. 7: You Loved Watching the Super Bowl Even When the 49ers Were Bad
Remember when the 49ers were bad?
Yeah, that was not too long ago. However each January, when the 49ers were no longer in the discussion, San Francisco fans would still pay attention to all the media coverage and stories that would surround whichever teams were competing in the Super Bowl that year.
If the fans were lucky, and they often were, the media would talk about Super Bowls of years past and, more often than not, the 49ers would come back into the fold somehow.
Whichever network covered the game, analysts would recall franchises and dynasties of years past and often would throw in a few San Francisco references from time to time.
They would talk of the five Super Bowl championships the 49ers enjoyed. They would discuss coaches like Bill Walsh and George Seifert. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice would be discussed as would Steve Young.
During the dark years of the recent decade, this would often serve as the only high-point of a 49er fan's season.
No. 6: You Love Seeing the Cowboys Lose
I still cannot figure this one out.
Yet I fall in line with all other 49er fans when they talk of the struggles of the Dallas Cowboys.
"America's Team?" Yeah, right. Let's go make fun of Jerry Jones instead.
The Cowboys should not logically be a rival of the 49ers. If this were a discussion about the Cowboys' rivalry with the New York Giants or Philadelphia Eagles, then it would make sense.
Yet the 49ers do not enjoy a typical rivalry with the Cowboys. At least not anymore.
For some reason or another however, 49er fans still love watching the Cowboys lose. Maybe older fans recall the days when the Cowboys were a San Francisco nemesis, both back in the late 1970s and then the 1990s.
In the years since, there really have not been many reasons for 49er fans to jump on the anti-Cowboy bandwagon. Yet they still do. I do it as well.
Some may say, "let bygones be bygones," but that phrase does not seem to fit into San Francisco fans' lexicons.
At least not with the Cowboys.
No. 5: You Still Remember Where You Were for the Catch No. 2
I was actually in Colorado at the time.
I was visiting a buddy of mine, also a die-hard 49er fan. We were in the basement of his home in Colorado Springs watching the 1998 Wild Cart playoff matchup against the Green Bay Packers on January 3, 1999. His girlfriend, now wife, was rooting for the Packers.
Needless to say, it was a great game to watch with plenty of smack-talk going back and forth.
Then there was the Catch, version 2.0: Young to Owens in the waning seconds of the game that put the 49ers up 30-27. I know where I was when that happened and I can even tell you where I was sitting and who was sitting on either sides of me.
I am sure you can recall similarly where you were as well.
If you were lucky enough, you got to hear the game on radio and listened to then-49ers broadcaster Joe Starkey yell out, "Owens! Owens! Owens!"
What a moment.
The next day, my friend and I put together a poster for his girlfriend with all the photos and highlights of the game that came out in the newspaper the following day. It was a nice gift from 49er fans to a Packers fan.
Where were you? Go comment and let me know!
No. 4: You Feel Bad for Alex Smith
You were probably excited for Alex Smith in 2005. Then you probably started to hate him shortly thereafter.
Smith's first four seasons in San Francisco were bad. There is no other way to describe it. Sure, he played better under offensive coordinator Norv Turner in 2006 and began to show signs of improvement in 2009.
Yet with the exceptions of the 2011 season and the first half of 2012, Smith was little more than a big disappointment considering his first-overall draft selection during the 2005 draft.
First, there were his struggles. We all know of those. There were all those different offensive coordinators too. Smith had injuries, his offensive line was terrible initially and head coach Mike Nolan called him out for not being "tough enough."
While many of his struggles are not necessarily his own fault, Smith became the poster-child for a 49ers team that was trying to get itself out of the NFL laughing stock. There were instances where he was nearly booed off the field. There were cries for backups like Nate Davis or Shaun Hill.
The ever-classy Smith never turned his frustrations on his teammates or fans. He could have, but instead he bore the brunt of fans' frustrations for years.
Smith eventually found success under head coach Jim Harbaugh and played very well for a season and a half. Only his concussion in 2012 opened the door for current quarterback Colin Kaepernick to take over.
Smith was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs following the season.
You probably would like to see Smith have some success in Kansas City. You wish him well. You would probably recall the better days Smith had in San Francisco, perhaps recalling the incredible 2011 playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. You would rather forget his earlier struggles.
Overall, you probably hoped for some sort of "Cindarella story" to happen to Smith. Yet such stories do not always happen in the NFL and Smith is no exception. He was supposed to be a part of the miracle turnaround when he was initially drafted.
Unfortunately, that turnaround did not happen until 2011.
Most of his San Francisco tenure was marked by circumstances well beyond his control. It is unfortunate that Smith only enjoyed a mere two successful years in San Francisco with the latter year resulting in injury that eventually led to his trade.
Still, you feel bad for him to some extent.
No. 3: You Never Forget the 49er Greats
Thankfully, the 49ers have employed plenty of Pro Bowl-caliber and Hall of Fame-worthy players over their franchise history.
You have not forgotten a single one of them.
Be it Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott or Steve Young, 49er fans are quick to mention the names of all-time 49er greats that have played in the red and gold over the decades.
I am the same way.
Fortunately, the accolades are there and such greats backed up their repetitive citations with a slough of records and highlights. 49er fans have not forgotten any of them.
If anything, these players, along with their accomplishments, helped fans get through some of the darker years in San Francisco history when the team as a whole enjoyed relatively few austere and dynamic play-makers.
Yet even when the 49ers became relevant, and then good, The Faithful never forgot the players that got the franchise on the map in the first place.
Hopefully, younger 49er fans will be able to look back to current 49er greats such as Patrick Willis and Frank Gore and state that they were "the best in the game."
No. 2: You Still Remember Where You Were for the Catch
Okay, so I do not remember where I was for this catch. I was not even two years old at the time.
Yet if you are only a few years older than me, you should remember where you were when Joe Montana completed that tremendous catch to Dwight Clark in the end zone in the final minute of the game that would lead to a 49ers victory in the NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys on January 10, 1982.
San Francisco would go on to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI.
"The Catch," as it has come to be remembered, is what makes that season so special. It was orchestrated by Montana and Clark, two 49ers greats whom fans will not soon forget. Much like the play from Steve Young to Terrell Owens during the 1998 playoffs against the Green Bay Packers, the first catch has become a part of 49ers' lore.
Thus, older 49er fans know exactly where they were and what they were doing when they watched it happen.
Years later, the NFL started using the play in its promotional videos and property-copyright clips along with other various scenes of NFL highlights. Certainly all 49er fans watch these clips and anxiously await the play that helped push San Francisco upon the brink of greatness.
No. 1: You Never Hesitate to Rub in the 49ers' Five Super Bowl Wins
Pittsburgh Steelers fans are the only ones that can trash-talk 49er fans when it comes to Super Bowl championships. Their six Super Bowl titles stand alone atop the NFL for most championships in the modern era.
The Dallas Cowboys could also talk some trash as well, since they're currently tied with the 49ers at five Super Bowl victories.
Before the 49ers' loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, 49er fans could at least answer back by saying that San Francisco had never lost a Super Bowl. That unfortunately is no longer the case.
Yet 49er fans can, and do, take an extreme amount of pride in the fact that they are one of only three NFL teams to have won five Super Bowls.
There is no forgetting the team of the 80s, led by Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and plenty of other greats, that would go on to win four during the decade. Then they backed it up again in 1994 with a fifth Super Bowl title with Steve Young at the helm.
With the exception of the two aforementioned teams, 49er fans can hold those victories over any other NFL franchise, an element of the 49er fan-base that does not go unnoticed.
It doesn't matter how good other NFL teams have been or are currently, nor how bad some recent San Francisco teams have been before 2011. 49er fans are always quick to remind the rest of the league that their beloved franchise has won five Super Bowls.
Much like never forgetting the 49er greats, The Faithful have little interest in hearing how much of a dynasty the New England Patriots or New York Giants have. Simply put, those teams were never as good nor as storied as San Francisco was during its stretch of greatness.
Most fans of other teams around the league probably do not want to hear 49er fans gloat about how successful the 49ers were. After all, it is a pretty smug statement.
The Faithful could care less.
Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report covering the San Francisco 49ers. Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.