49er fans cheer their team on during the first quarter of the Super Bowl Sunday at the Seabright Brewery in Santa Cruz. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian).
It’s going to hurt.
For two weeks, we all harkened back to memories of past 49ers glory, whether it was Montana to Taylor, or Montana to Rice, or Steve Young destroying the Chargers.
Those who were around to see and remember one or more of those five Super Bowl wins brought back those memories in the two weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLVII.
It’s tough to believe that it’s been 18 years since the 49ers were in the final dance. A gallon of gasoline 18 years ago was less than $1.25. EBay was just getting off the ground. “Toy Story” was in theaters. Calvin and Hobbes entered its swan song.
Eighteen years was just long enough for the new generation of 49ers fans to connect with someone from the older generation who could rattle off where they were, what they ate and how they celebrated a 49ers’ Super Bowl appearance and eventual win.
And that’s why this loss is going to hurt.
If you’re part of the younger generation, it hurts because you wish you could celebrate and have something to hold on to like the older generation did at least 18 years ago. If you’re part of the older generation, it hurts because the Teflon shield is gone; the 49ers can actually lose this game like any other team, and you won’t get to see the younger generation have that joy you did almost two decades ago.
But at least the 49ers didn’t quit.
Do a search on Twitter, and you probably would have found about a million “ballgame” or “it’s over” tweets when Jacoby Jones returned the third-quarter kickoff 108 yards. I actually questioned how much longer I was going to watch the game, given that it was so lopsided at that point.
And after the strange partial blackout, the 49ers somehow found themselves. Who would have guessed that they would score 17 points in a flash to put Baltimore on its heels?
It was that 17-point stretch that gave me hope that the 49ers are going to be back on the big stage very soon, if not next year. When things were working in their favor, they couldn’t be stopped. They turned a really terrible Super Bowl — and there hasn’t been a really terrible one since the Raiders got smacked by Tampa Bay a decade ago — into an epic.
Unfortunately, it’s an epic that will not sit well for a lot of 49ers fans.
They should have won. Fans should be heading up to The City today to watch a parade.
But the 49ers’ mistakes cost them.
A fumble led to seven Baltimore points. A horrendous pass is intercepted and that eventually led to seven more points. Then there’s the 108-yard kickoff return that made you wonder if the 49ers were still thinking about Beyonce’s halftime show, or maybe they didn’t make the tackle because they thought Jones was Beyonce.
I’m not going to get drawn into one play at the end that might or might have not been a penalty. There’s so many other moments worth nitpicking more.
Even in the loss, there’s hope.
Colin Kaepernick is just 25 years old and, by all accounts, should be the starter next season. More games. More experience.
Coach Jim Harbaugh will go into next season with another year of NFL coaching experience. It took Bill Walsh three seasons to win his first title.
The 49ers will have at least 11 draft picks, and possibly more. There’s a chance to boost the secondary and wide receiving departments.
The next few days will hurt as you watch all of the pomp and circumstance that Baltimore will receive, and you’ll be sad because it’s not the 49ers.
But be excited for next year. The 49ers will learn from this.
Glenn Cravens is the sports editor for the Register-Pajaronian.
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