I stopped being a 49ers fan after Dwight Clark recovered the Bengals onside kick and the remaining seconds ticked off, certifying the San Francisco 49ers first Super Bowl championship on Jan. 24, 1982.
From that point until Roger Craig fumbled away a chance for a 49ers three-peat in 1991, I, like the finest of Oscar caliber actors, faked being a 49ers fan.
I faked loving the 49ers 1985 Stanford Stadium redemption after two frustrating seasons and losing that heartbreaker where they came back from a 21-0 hole to tie the Redskins, only to lose on bum penalty-fueled field goal.
I faked rejoicing the great 1988, 10-6 season culminating in the drive with Montana hitting Taylor in the final seconds and certifying the San Francisco 49ers as the team of the 80s. I even faked reveling in the following years 55-10 slaughter of the Broncos.
For me, even that first Pontiac Silverdome Bowl is suspect now, even though I do believe that one really mattered. Why all the angst, you may ask?
From 1972 to that first bowl win, I was a San Francisco 49ers fan. No faker. The real deal, watching the 49ers, year in and year out, find new creative ways to lose. Tearing up newspapers and TV Guides in the living room, screaming at the top of my lungs at tough losses. Years of suffering with a few bones tossed in from time to time like the 1976 season when the 49ers had the Gold Rush, Tommy Hart, Cleveland Elam, Cedric Hardman, Jimmy Webb, QB Jim Plunkett and RB Delvin Williams and exploded out the gate early, whipping the arch rival LA Rams 16-0 on a Monday night, only to falter at the end, finishing 8-6.
The bottom line is the 49ers didnít win the big one when it most mattered, those years when I was 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 years old. Years when football and the 49ers were more important than life itself.
On Sunday, I went for a jog during the game and I witnessed a glowing, cheering fan waving a 49ers flag down East Lake Avenue, and for a moment I was a 49ers fan again. It had involuntarily seeped back. The old feeling. But something was wrong. The 49ers had won. At 48, Iím afraid, the 49ers really donít matter much anymore.
Charles Birimisa is a Watsonville resident.
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