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I'm glad the 49ers are losing. No, it's not because I think they should use the Bengals' model for franchise development. At some point, having a top five pick in the NFL draft gets old. Frankly I'm glad the 49ers are losing because of the fans. That's right - it's because of people like you that I am glad the 49ers will have another top 5 pick.
Okay, maybe not you specifically. But in general, 49er fans are spoiled; and certainly aren't afraid to show it. They don't call fans the "forty-whiners" for nothing. They were treated to back-to-back hall of fame quarterbacks, 5 Super Bowls, and 17 playoff appearances in 20 years (1981 to 2001). And despite all the memories, they are the first to ditch their tickets when the team is losing.
Candlestick Park was never an intimidating place to play. Lambeau Field, Arrowhead Stadium, and Three Rivers Stadium (or now, Heinz Field) were places that opposing teams feared, even if they didn't fear the team that took the field. It was the exact opposite for the 49ers. Teams feared the 49ers, not the stadium.
Now, the 49ers are losing. And what little people bunkered down in the bandwagon for the long winter that is franchise rebuilding have jumped off. Looking over the sea of blue-wearing Cowboy fans flood the Candlestick seats like some kind of plague only further confirmed this fact. Even people who saw the 49ers versus Cowboys game on TV said that they weren't sure whether the game was played in San Francisco or Dallas. For a fan, that has to be the ultimate slap in the face.
So what remains in the wasteland that was the 49er fan base? The remnants were on display on Sunday against the Giants. They were the fans that previously stayed home because tickets were not available. They were the fans that were willing to scream until all of the little tears in their throat made it hurt to swallow despite the fact that the 49ers were slaughtered by more than 35 points two weeks ago. They were the fans that could see the light at the end of a tunnel that spans a distance longer than Joe Montana's career passing yards. (Which, incidentally, is 40,551 yards).
Make no mistake; the fans certainly do impact the players and the way they play. And at this point, the 49ers need any help they can get. It isn't an impossible ocular feat to observe the effects of a raucous crowd on the players. Players like Julian Peterson ask for it on the field when they raise their hands, handing the crowd an engraved invitation to react. On Sunday, the fans did just that. It was sweet listening to the deafening, repetitive chants of "DEE-FENSE, DEE-FENSE" sweep through the crowd almost every time the 49ers defense took the field. It is these very same chants that give an extra surge of confidence to a player. And in the NFL, where a split second can be the difference between a win and a loss, every little bit helps.
When the Giants finally put the dagger in the hearts of the 49ers, a goal line plunge by Brandon Jacobs in the fourth quarter, the dagger hit deep into the fan's hearts. They sat down, quieted down and cheered no more. There was a collective exhalation of hopes that left the stadium and with it, the will of the defense to put up a fight. After that first touchdown in the 4th quarter the 49ers allowed 5.2 yards-per-carry while the Giants ran out the clock. Up until that point, when the crowd helped swell the confidence of the defense, the 49ers allowed only 2.48 yards-per-carry.
When it comes to confidence, Mike Nolan has the team going in the right direction. He has them believing that they are on the brink, even if that may not be entirely true. If a team, though, feels they are on the brink and is greeted by a home stadium cheering for their mistakes and expecting them to fail then it will only serve to dismantle whatever confidence they built. So here is my call to all 49er "fans" everywhere. If you want to do something to help your team, go to the games and scream until you get a headache and those little veins in your neck pulsate involuntarily. Help boost each player by giving him the confidence that fans believe they can do it. Make the stadium so loud that opposing teams are scared to come to Candlestick regardless of the fact that they are facing a two-win team. And if you see someone teetering on the edge of the bandwagon, unsure whether to get off or stay on, shove him or her off and drop the dead weight. That is, if the constant losing hasn't done that already.
Like I said, I'm glad the 49ers are losing. Losing can only distill the fan base to what will invariably remain in the end - the real 49er Faithful.