Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports


An Open Letter to The 49ers

Feb 7, 2020 at 12:08 PM23


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.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


23 Comments

  • mack
    49ers are not going back to the Super Bowl LOL. Not in the next 50 years LOL
    Feb 14, 2020 at 9:35 AM
    1
  • Jake McF
    The Ravens (regular season games and two Super Bowls) and the Chiefs are the 49ers' Masters. They own the 49ers buttocks.
    Feb 13, 2020 at 9:15 AM
    0
  • Keishaun
    9ers..they no good
    Feb 11, 2020 at 4:22 PM
    0
  • Ryan xxx
    NFL.com ranks 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo as No. 15 starting quarterback from 2019 https://www.49erswebzone.com/articles/134955-nflcom-ranks-49ers-jimmy-garoppolo-starting-quarterback-2019/ That's why the Niners aren't going to win a Super Bowl for a very very long time Hahahaha!
    Feb 11, 2020 at 11:52 AM
    4
  • lissasmarsh
    Bye Rice A Roni. Mahomes big dig and unmatched QB skills the new San Francisco treat??
    Feb 10, 2020 at 1:43 PM
    2
  • Brandon S
    https://ftw.usatoday.com/2020/02/2020-super-bowl-san-francisco-49ers-collapse-kyle-shanahan-robert-saleh Your fault, Saleh!!!
    Feb 10, 2020 at 1:33 PM
    2
  • Joe
    A little too emotional. Its only a game. There is more to life than football. That being said I think you chronicled the ups and downs of the season very well. They play a game for a shiny silver trophy. Football players are modern day gladiators who play a vicious sport for wealthy owners for getting drunk and spectacle. Its only a game not a religion. If you are only living for the 49ers to win the Super Bowl as your life mission, it will always leave you empty even if they win. Because its all just a show.
    Feb 10, 2020 at 10:42 AM
    1
  • zack
    how did you even sit down to type out this piece of shit article with an ass that sore? LOL the 9ers will never win a superbowl with garrapolo, don't respond, your last response was as cringey as this crybaby article, just be a man and admit the better team won, zeroes whine about the calls, there were missed calls on the 9ers too, i wouldn't be crying like a bitch about it if the chiefs lost. btw Matt- I'm making a super bowl victory shadow box to commemorate the occasion, ill email you a picture when it's done since you won't be making one any time soon LOL, hell even if the 9ers won you wouldn't, you'd probably hurt your limp wrists. prepare your anus for repeated mahomes entries, its gonna get spacious in there SON.
    Feb 9, 2020 at 2:45 PM
    5
  • zack
    the chiefs dropped a greasy log down San Francisco's throat, mahomes is the GOAT and he plays for the chiefs, get used to last Sunday's result, its going to be the norm going forward, you were just the first fan base to experience the destruction of your assholes in a superbowl via mahomes, you won't be the last, mahomes is going to win 7 probably.
    Feb 9, 2020 at 1:40 PM
    5
    Response: Your atrocious grammar is exceeded only by your vapid and rather moronic content. The Chiefs won, kudos to them. Let’s see how things play out. Better hope Hill and Clark don’t get arrested in the off-season.
  • Max
    The parade was the best thing I've ever seen. Andy Reid guaranteed another super bowl and I have more reason to believe in him than Shanahan at this point. Mahomes owns the league for years to come. Good luck losers
    Feb 9, 2020 at 10:51 AM
    5
  • Nick
    Facebook posts are a joke. A bunch of sniveling whiners. Mahomes fsce mask grabbed at least 4 times. Niner o line holding every play. Bosa hands to face twice. Shanahan sniveling punk. Credit the best team and quit complaining. Chiefs smoked inferior niners. And kittle shutup. You wont be back, and if you do mahomes will smack you punks again.......
    Feb 9, 2020 at 9:07 AM
    5
  • Ivan
    Your letter shows precisely the true love that true niners have.
    Feb 9, 2020 at 7:25 AM
    1
  • Morty Flannagan
    Haven't won schitt in the last 25-26 years. Losers!!
    Feb 9, 2020 at 2:25 AM
    2
    Response: That’s half as long as it took for the Chiefs. I’ll take 5 titles and 7 appearances in 30 years to 1 in 50 any day.
  • Imcaleburnot
    With Kyle at the helm, Niners are gonna be a problem for a long time.
    Feb 8, 2020 at 6:51 PM
    3
  • Nick
    Delusional loser. The better team won. Winners win and losers lose. Better luck next time. Only thing is it isnt gonna happen. Chiefs are a dynasty now. Mahomes beats jimmy g 100 out of 100. Crybabies enjoy the offseason. Pick a new team to follow . Maybe the chiefs. They wont crush your soul like the loser 49ers
    Feb 8, 2020 at 6:07 PM
    6
    Response: That dynasty is gonna have some serious cap issues.
  • John Peterson
    I might add...this loss has me so down. I'll always love & follow my team. But losing it, and in the manner we did..I've lost A lot respect For the game & the NFL. I really don't think, I will ever again have that much love & excitement for the game I had, up until those final mins of the game. 1, maybe 2 bad or missed calls( in a huge game), it's happened before. But I've never witnessed any game before, with this many crucial errors, especially in those final 8 mins. There was a minimum 4-5 missed calls and each 1 of them went against us. This should of been the biggest & ongoing story post Super Bowl. Yet, nobody is saying anything. Read Steve Young & TO made some mention, but only 1 specific play! Is the local media there speaking more about it? Guess I'm shocked that none of our players, coaches, J.L & York hasn't said anything. Look how much exposure the Saints received over 1 freaking play, in the NFC title game. WTH??
    Feb 8, 2020 at 11:23 AM
    2
  • John Peterson
    Excellent read! I'm a Niners faithful, and live in DFW. I was picked-on a lot as a child because of the Niner/Cowboys rivalry back-in-the-day...I took a lot so much crap. And when we lost to them...oh I remember dreading going to school the following day! Lol I've remained loyal to my team. No matter what. My other favorite, my local Texas Rangers. The Game #6 World Series loss(down to the last strike, twice), sent me into a deep depression for several months. That would of been our 1st championship, EVER. Same yr, Kyle Williams lost us the NFC title game. 1-2 yrs later...Niners lose the super bowl! My 2 fav teams...have played in 4 title games(2 SB, 2 World Series) and came away with 0 Titles. Tough pill to swallow, given 3 of those should of been won!! Last weeks Super Bowl...is right up there with the Rangers loss. Difference is...the Rangers completely blew it. This 49ers loss was more devastating, with the way they lost. We were beating the hell out of the Chiefs. Witnessing several critical calls or non calls by the refs and seeing how each call shaped to get the Chiefs back in the game & win it. And what blows my mind Even mor...why isn't there any talk about it?
    Feb 8, 2020 at 11:11 AM
    3
  • Ray Compter
    Best team my behind. Best team wins in the Super Bowl. Unable to blitz because weak CBs and Safeties will get exposed, and they got exposed. Boooo!!! The Chiefs blitzed Jimmy G a lot, especially in the 4th quarter. Boooo!!!
    Feb 7, 2020 at 7:29 PM
    3
  • Michelle Auch
    Excellent letter and on point! I'm a fan of 40 years and have lived in New York my entire life. I've only ever been to one game. Young was at the helm vs the Bills. It was awful. We broke the team record for the most flags in a game in the first half! We lost horribly. But it was awesome at the same time because I was there! I was finally seeing MY team play in front of my eyes! How I wish I could catch the random game whenever I wanted during a season. I dragged my non-sports loving hubby to Canton just so I could be there when Montana and Lott were inducted into the Hall simply because I told myself I would be there when Montana's day came. This was such a fun ride this year, mostly, because, I think it was unexpected. Who thinks a team that was 4-12 would make it to the big game the very next year??? I love this team! I love the family dynamic that they've got going on in the locker room (please don't ever change that) and I truly believe it translates to the playing field as well. Kudos to all of them and I can't wait for next year!!
    Feb 7, 2020 at 2:23 PM
    7
  • Keith Harper
    Great letter. Sums up my feelings incredibly well. I ride or die with my 49ers! Huge fan since I was 8 years old and saw "The Catch" while watching the game on TV with my dad and my older brother. Thanks for such an awesome ride this season. Looking forward to all the great years to come. C'mon September get here! Keep this team together! All gas, no brakes! Go 49ers!! Red and gold for life!
    Feb 7, 2020 at 1:29 PM
    6
  • JIMI
    I Appreciate those comments. I was Just telling someone what a fun and exciting season this was to follow and watch. Nice To see the rebuild, and that the niner's are in good hands. Really enjoyed the series "one brick at a time" From Way up North with a lot snow GO 9ers
    Feb 7, 2020 at 1:15 PM
    6
  • patty
    These are my words and thoughts exactly. I could not have put this any better! I wish everyone could see this. Not just the Faithful but fans of every team so that they could see and understand the depth of being a true Niner fan. We all love to win but we love our team even through the losses. Yes The San Francisco 49ers were definitely the best in the NFL this year and even better years are coming. We will stand by them 100 percent!!! Patty Barringer Terrell, TX
    Feb 7, 2020 at 12:42 PM
    1
  • steve
    Fantastic piece. One of the best, most unexpected Niner seasons I've ever witnessed, having only been 9 when they won the last one in '94.
    Feb 7, 2020 at 12:30 PM
    3

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