This is a point-of-view piece, written tongue-in-cheek. We appreciate differing opinions, so if you have one, just add it to the comments.
News has surfaced that Jim Harbaugh — 49ers head coach famous for his angry faces and shouty demeanor — is growing estranged from the San Francisco front office, to the point that he was almost (allegedly) traded to the Cleveland Browns for a draft pick, similarly to how Doc Rivers was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers from the Boston Celtics last year. The idea was bandied about then confirmed by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who told USA Today, “There was an opportunity there, and it didn’t materialize.” That’s a shame.
It’s a shame because Harbaugh is a good-to-great coach who has become dramatically underpaid — which is what the disagreement between him and the Niners front office is about — by virtue of taking an OK team deep into the post-season for three consecutive years. While Colin Kaepernick arguably remains a little bit more of a game manager (for lack of a better description) than his Madden commercials with Russell Wilson might have you believe, between Kaep and Harbaugh, the Niners are set up for a nice, extended run at a Super Bowl win — maybe — or as guaranteed as that can be in the National Football League.
Harbaugh gets angry. Real angry, when he’s on a good team. Can you imagine what would happen if he ended up on the Browns? A team so destitute that its fans are happy to fund a Kickstarter for a children’s coloring book called Why is Daddy Sad on Sunday? paired with a coach who goes into apoplectic shock at the slightest provocation? It could’ve been gold. Unfortunately, Harbaugh is probably going to stay with the Niners, and that’s a drag, because pretty much everyone hates the 49ers. Why? Let us count the ways.
1. They’re in the Bay Area
While the rest of the country is slowly collapsing into shambles, Silicon Valley and the Bay area are in great, chipper spirits. Everyone who lives in or around San Francisco is getting seed money for a startup or designing a new app — or is Jello Biafra. What’s worse, the 49ers and their fans know that we’re all just secretly jealous of the fact that they live in a really cool area with fancy gadgets.
Those terrible advertisements about how “Tomorrow Starts Here” and the “Internet of Everything” — that’s the Bay Area in a nutshell, and those people are supporting a football team? There’s nothing more anti-technology than football. It’s grown men hurling themselves into each other with enough speed and ferocity to cause irreversible brain damage. The sport uses massive trucks and light beer to reinforce a reactionary, simplified view of the world.
Furthermore, as far as the NFL is concerned, 49ers fans can lazily browse the games while updating their Flickr accounts and making adjustments to their creative portfolios in the afternoon. Since they’re three hours behind those of us on the East Coast and an hour or so behind the rest of us in the flyover states, 49ers fans get to watch their team in the morning and the early afternoon. Are you joking? The only problem with Sunday during football season is that from 1 p.m. on, you’re locked inside your house.
If you’re recovering from a Saturday night, you’ll be lucky if you can make it from your bed to the TV by 1 p.m., let alone trying to do anything else. From there, it’s 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., football all the time, with maybe a half-hour break — just enough time to get delivery. Then your friends in the Bay Area text you from their iPads with, “Oh, that was awesome, now I’m going to go to the store and do things because Pacific Time rocks.” The Bay Area is pretty awesome, and we’re all jealous.
2. Their fans are scary
Only half of Niners fans are made up of the wired and well-connected. The other half? The other half are ready to totally mess you up if you step foot into their building during pre-season, the regular season, the playoffs, the Super Bowl, and even during the off-season. It doesn’t matter.
Some of that is kind of refreshing — there are only so many franchises that can get away with fans who are embryonic versions of Colin Cowherd and Erin Andrews bleating about potential. No team needs another fan bent out of shape about “playing the right way,” à la Belichick-era Pats fans. But, uh, when you’re ganking your friends over a football game, maybe you don’t want to to repeatedly get into the news for stabby activities. That last link is to a story in which 49ers fans attacked other 49ers fans, so there isn’t even the (dumb) logic of “Well, at least they went after some Seahawks fans.”
3. “Who’s Got It Better Than Us?”
Seriously? This is the best you’ve got? It’s like a weak Saints ripoff. What else are you gonna steal from New Orleans, Niners? Bountygate? Would it be the Golden Bountygate? Could I link it to my car’s Wi-Fi hotspot?
In case there’s any of confusion, the Niners, like most teams, have a team slogan — something to shout in the huddle. Like “One, two, three, go team!” or whatever. The 49ers slogan is a call-and-response. If you’ve never heard it, it goes like this.
Call: “Who’s got it better than us?”
That’s it; that’s all. Gross. Even the Chargers aren’t that lame, and they have Phillip Rivers as the “leadership” in that locker room.
4. Colin Kaepernick is only good when no one’s paying attention
(Or when it’s freezing and he’s playing outside in Green Bay sleeveless.)
This has nothing to do with Captain Kaep as a person, since his tattoos are a non-issue — no matter what Peter King wants to say about it — and he more or less seems like a pretty good dude. The problem is that most people who follow football are not Niners fans. So for the 32 teams in the league, 30 fan bases aren’t watching the Niners on any given week. Following a couple of players for fantasy? Sure. Watching a touchdown on NFL RedZone? All right. Watching a whole Niners game if they’re not playing your team? Really? No one’s doing that.
But even if you’re not watching the Niners, you’re watching Kaepernick. His commercials and endorsements kept him in the public eye even when his team wasn’t, so when the playoffs rolled around and everyone got a chance to tune in to the Niners, they saw an OK quarterback. He played well against Green Bay, throwing for several hundred yards and a touchdown, but the real story with that game was the temperature (it was cold). Against Seattle, in the Niners’ third consecutive NFC Championship game, he had bad time.
That was it. He’s been in a Super Bowl that had a power outage as its most lasting image. He’s been on the winning side of one really frosty game and the losing side of a rivalry game that felt forced by a season of advertising. After all those ads and all that controversy, it’s just a good quarterback on a good-to-great football team. It feels a little like a sham. That’s not Kaep’s fault, but it definitely helps to explain why everyone hates the 49ers. Oh, and there are probably some mouthbreathers out there who don’t like his tattoos, too.