Dear Jed, Kyle, John, and all the coaches and 2019-20 49ers players:

Thank you. Thank you for what was an incredible, magical, thrilling season that came so, so close to being perfect. But like most things in life, perfection was just not possible. I am not talking about a perfect record - I am talking about a perfect experience from a fan's perspective. Allow me to explain.

I have been a 49er fan for about 46 years. My dad started taking me (along with my mom and brother) to games in 1973, when I was just a little guy. I didn't go to many games until around 1977 or so. I remember 1978 when OJ became a Niner and the team's future went out the window. It was a fiasco. That all changed shortly after Bill Walsh took over, and we had almost 20 years of dominance. Toward the end of that run, my life changed when I got married and started a family. My attendance at games was not as consistent, and my focus shifted. As my sons started turning from babies into boys, I looked forward to indoctrinating them into being part of The Faithful. Unfortunately, the team's fortunes shifted again when Eddie had to give up control of the team in 1997. My eldest son was a year old at the time. Since then, times have been lean as a fan. They held together in '97 and '98, made the playoffs in 2001 and 2002, and then went through a truly rough patch, with the Harbaugh years bringing excitement in 2011-13. It was then that my eldest two sons became huge fans. My youngest, for reasons that are his own, was not part of this. The team imploded, and the dark years came.

I don't think I ever truly lost hope that Jed would pull things together. I felt that he had backed the wrong party (Baalke), but the truth is, the whole building was toxic. Between that administration and the years that followed, I believed that Jed truly wanted to win - he just had to learn how to translate that into his football team. When he hired Kyle and John, it felt like the team had turned a corner. Jed, being a good owner, let them do their thing and supported the administration.

Things were tough for years one and two - the fans were sick of losing, of the mess that this once-proud organization had been for so long, and while the team competed (remember the record for fewest points in combined losses?), they did not win. Jimmy got hurt last year, and the record didn't improve. The one interesting thing was the drafting of good, solid players, high character guys (like John), and the ability to admit mistakes and move on (Hoyer, Ruben Foster, etc.). When you drafted Bosa (and Greenlaw, and Deebo, and others) and signed Kwon, Coleman, and traded for Sanders, albeit well into the season, things fell into place.

This season, to put it mildly, was incredible. There were so many injuries - SO MANY INJURIES - and you just plowed right through them. Next man up took on a whole new meaning. How many offensive and defensive linemen started in how many positions? Kwon went down and an undrafted free agent stepped in and played incredibly. Witherspoon got hurt, and then struggled, and Moseley played pro bowl-level cornerback. Tartt got hurt. Ward got hurt. Kittle. I mean, everyone but Jimmy seemed to get hurt at some point. You guys didn't miss a beat. You pulled for each other, you supported each other, you loved one another. You really did. It was like nothing I have ever seen. You were more than a team, you were a family - a family, a single unit, in sync and completely confident in yourselves and in your teammates. There was no doubt, no hesitation, there was belief that victory was almost a foregone conclusion. And it was, all season long. In a time like we face, with so much negativity, so much division, such a loss of the innocence that once permeated the country, seeing a team of happy, optimistic, supportive players, who pulled for one another and thought only of the result, as opposed to individual stats or accolades, was nothing short of miraculous.

How many incredible games did you guys play? The Steelers game, overcoming 5 turnovers. The Browns blowout on national television, when you announced that you were legit (at least to us fans). The heartbreak of the first Seahawks game. The comeback against Arizona (Jeff Wilson's catch!), the thrashing of Green Bay and the Rams, the amazing games against Baltimore and New Orleans, the second Rams game and the Seattle clincher - so many amazing, thrilling, incredible games, filled with moments that took our breath away and made us scream at the top of our lungs when victory was secured. My God, what a season. And no one, NO ONE, expected true greatness. That's exactly what we got.

What did I get? I got a third son who became completely and utterly invested in this team. We went to the Seahawks, Packers and Rams games. We talked football for hours. He lived and breathed the Niners, as I have during every season of my life and as his brothers have as well. He wore his Bosa jersey on game day. He lost his mind along with me, and felt that physical pain when things ended. Looking at him on the verge of tears that Sunday night, I told him that it is the painful losses, the times that hurt to the very core, that make you really love a team. He really, really loves this team, and I am so grateful to you for this.

You were the best team in football. Yes, you lost the Super Bowl, but it was apparent, it was obvious, even to cynics, that you were the better team. We all know that. Football is a crazy game, and momentum is a tangible thing. Magic, it seems, is also a tangible thing. The Chiefs found a bit, and momentum slipped away. It happens, and it really, really hurts when it does - especially when the better team suffers a loss in the final game of the year as a result. The season is over, and common wisdom would indicate that the chances of a repeat of the magic that we saw are pretty much zero. But I believe in magic. I believe in what this team has. I believe in Kyle, and John, and Jimmy, and Sherm, and Bosa, Defo, Kittle, Warner, Deebo and the rest of you. I think you believe in it as well. I think that you have unfinished business. I believe that you, as a team, you as players, as competitors, will be back and will make a run next year and for years to come. I know that I, and my sons, will be here supporting them, because we bleed red and gold. We love the Niners. We always will. No matter what the future brings, we will have this season, this magical, wonderful season, to remember for the rest of our lives. No one, nothing, can ever take that away.

So thank you, all of you, for an incredible, fantastic, thrilling ride.
  • Written by:
    Matt Mani is a lifelong Bay Area resident, having benefitted from attending every Niner home game from 1973 to 1998. Along the way, he developed a deep love of the game and for the team. He is a practicing attorney in Marin County and, aside from pulling hard for the Niners, Warriors and GIants, writes in his spare time. He is father to three sons who all bleed red and gold. He somehow convinced the editors at 49ers Webzone to give him a chance to prove himself as a content provider, which has fulfilled one of his life's dreams.