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Thanksgiving Day: since the 49ers' season started, many of us have had this day circled on our calendars. Today, for the first time in NFL history, 2 brothers will lead their teams as opposing head coaches. But for most of us, that's just a small part of a much bigger story.
When the season started, most of us (including yours truly) had absolutely no idea that the 49ers would have the NFL's second best record (9-1), be in the hunt for the NFC's #1 seed or that they'd have a chance to clinch their division this week.
The 49er faithful have plenty to be thankful for. Any way you slice it; this is a great time to be a 49er fan. But because I'm getting older (and maybe a touch more sentimental), today has me thinking about what I'm really thankful for.
So…what is it I'm really thankful for? I'm thankful for my favorite football player…and his favorite football player.
Who's my favorite football player? In the six years that he's been playing, I've never seen him quit. He's an ironman…he plays offense and defense. He's a natural leader, a team captain. He's also my son.
This last football season (his last before High School), he started at Middle Linebacker and Center for the Modesto Rams. He had a season for the ages…he racked up 113 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 1 sack and 1 fumble recovery. He even found time to carry the ball on occasion, score a TD and recover an onside kick. To put it plainly, the kid is a beast.
Who's his favorite football player? Take a wild guess. My 14-year old linebacker idolizes none other than Patrick Willis. A 4-time Pro Bowler and 4-time All Pro, Willis is poised to play on a national stage tonight for the first time in the 2011 season. While some (yours truly included) think that Willis is already the best linebacker in the NFL, some think the title still belongs to Ray Lewis. Tonight, against Lewis' Baltimore Ravens, Willis has a chance to show the country just how good he is…and just how far his team has come.
So let's revisit the question: what am I thankful for?
I'm thankful that I get to watch my team play on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1972. I'm thankful that the 49ers are going to have a winning season for the first time since 2002. I'm thankful for Willis, Gore, and all of the Smiths. I'm thankful for Coach Harbaugh.
But most of all, I'm thankful for my favorite football player. I'm thankful that he gets to watch the 49ers become relevant again. I'm thankful that he's a good kid. I'm thankful that he's becoming a good man. I'm thankful that I get to be his Dad.
Happy Thanksgiving, kiddo. Go Niners.