The Faithful can finally rejoice. For the first time since 1997, the 49ers were the top seed in the NFC and for the first time since 2013, they are back in the Superbowl.
For my husband and in-laws, this season has meant something special. For them, the 49ers mean family.
In the words of Jimmy G., “It feels great baby!”
For over 20 years, my father-in-law, Neal, bonded with his own father-in-law, Victor, while braving the blustery winds of Candlestick Park to cheer on their beloved Niners. Every home game, Victor and his wife, Elizabeth, would make the hour long drive from the small Delta town of Walnut Grove over to Concord in the East Bay. Decked out from head-to-toe in their “lucky” Niners’ gear (literally head-to-toe; Victor even wore official 49ers socks), Victor and Neal would make their way over to Candlestick Park to cheer on their beloved Red and Gold. Elizabeth and my mother-in-law would spend the day relaxing while taking care of my husband and his sister. Win or lose, Victor and Neal were always greeted eagerly by the children upon returning home. Post game recaps were delivered over a bucket of KFC as the family listened in earnest.
The tradition began in the 80’s after Victor sold his small business and with the 49ers in the midst of their first dynasty, and ended sometime in the early 2000’s as Victor’s health began to fail and the 49ers dropped near the bottom of their division.
And so while the holiday season is officially over, with the 49ers recent dominance, there remains much to celebrate in our household. After 12 years of living abroad, my husband has finally repatriated back to the Bay Area with me and our young son in tow. We cannot wait to introduce the sport to our son and cheer on the team that has made such a significant impact to our family. We hope he will share in the pride of being a fourth generation Faithful.
Although there’s a long way to go before the names Garoppolo and Kittle can be mentioned alongside the names Montana and Rice, there’s something that feels special about this new generation of Niners, playing out of Levi’s Stadium and helmed by head coach Kyle Shanahan, himself a second-generation 49ers coach.
Are we witnessing the birth of a new dynasty? Only time will tell.
But with our recent repatriation, things certainly feel serendipitous. Whatever may come, the future certainly looks golden (and red).