Somehow, I managed to make it to the old age of 30 before ever going to an NFL game. Today, I crossed that barrier, taking in the San Francisco 49ers' 9-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens (Recap), in what was likely the best possible weather for a sunny Bay Area afternoon game at Monster Park.
I grew up a 49ers fan in elementary and junior high school, seeing San Francisco march to Super Bowl after Super Bowl in the 1980s to 1990s on the backs of legendary players like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, John Taylor, and others. But as the team fell apart following Young's retirement, and my focuses were more in line with fantasy football individuals, rather than the teams they played on, I stopped caring - even as some part of me knew I was still a 49ers fan somewhere.
While I've attended more than 100 A's games, a few dozen Cal games, and a smattering of San Jose Sharks, San Francisco Giants, Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings games over the years, I'd never taken the trek to old Candlestick Park to see the 49ers play - likely a combination of the fact they play on Sunday, a suspected high price, and nobody else pushing to go. Today, that changed as some colleagues from the office offered up the chance for me to see the 49ers play, in their seats, which they gained by benefit of 4 season tickets. Donning the unfamiliar red and gold, we rooted for the 49ers to take over the game early, and put some points on the board, but they didn't do much at all on offense for just about the entire game.
In fact, the game turned out to be a defensive battle, as both teams put up goose eggs in the first quarter, and the 49ers went to half time trailing 6-0, on a pair of Ravens' field goals. While we yelled at the 49ers to take some chances and throw the ball downfield, they were a complete vacuum on offense, choosing instead to run the ball straight ahead for no gain. In fact, the MVP of the team's offense was likely the punter, who kicked 7 times for more than 300 yards, including three balls that were downed behind the 20 yard line.
After falling behind 9-0 in the 3rd quarter, the 49ers posted their only score and only real excitement of the game on the back of two passes from backup QB Trent Dilfer, making the game 9-7 to enter the final frame. 15 minutes and one missed field goal later, the team was all done, and so were we.
Was the visit a disaster just because the 49ers lost? No. Was it boring because they didn't score much? No - although I wouldn't have minded a 34-31 shootout, to be honest. Attending today's game with good friends was a lot of fun, and as annoyed as I was as to the outcome of the game, it's much more likely now that I'll be paying more attention to the 49ers, and I just might be willing to once again admit to being a fan.