Last year: 11-4-1, NFC West champs, lost in Super Bowl
Acquisitions: Anquan Boldin, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jonathan Baldwin, Adam Snyder, Craig Dahl, Eric Reid, Phil Dawson
Departures: Alex Smith, Dashon Goldson, Randy Moss, A.J. Jenkins, Leonard Davis, David Akers
Vegas win total over/under: 11 wins
Five things Jim Harbaugh learned from attending a taping of Judge Judy:
– “Um is not an answer!”
– “Dumb ideas come from people who have dumb brains.”
– “Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. It doesn’t work and it annoys the pig.”
– “Beauty fades, dumb is forever.”
– Never lend people money.
Fan forecast by FilmDrunk editor, Vince Mancini:
(Note: I’m generally against using the pronoun “we” or “us” to describe the collection of highly-paid athletes that play for the privately held business in the stadium nearest my childhood home, but I’m going to skip that for today because this is about fandom, and fandom is irrational. WE! WE! WE! WE CAN DO IT, YES WE CAN!).
Not judging this season against these last two NFC Championship and Super Bowl ones seems like the only sure-fire way to avoid disappointment, but let’s face it, that’s not going to happen. Like every noveau riche, mortgage branch millionaire during the housing boom, I’m caught up in the fantasy that this recent good fortune was a long time coming and will last forever, or at least until Jim Harbaugh spontaneously combusts in one last, glorious incandescent rage-filled firework. And anyway, fandom isn’t about avoiding disappointments. Damn the torpedoes, love like you’ve never been hurt and all that shit, SUPER BOWL OR BUST, MOTHERF*CKERS!
So, last season.
If San Francisco were Boston, we’d still be talking about how the referees f*cked us on that obvious pass interference no-call in the end zone that lost us a Super Bowl 50 years from now, long after our robo-grandchildren have tired of hearing it. But this isn’t a city of loud, proud, put-upon townies, it’s a city of smug, overachieving, quietly spiteful transplants, convinced of our own superiority all along. We’ll treat last year as a speed bump on the road to inevitable dynasty and expect to get every call, win every game. Oh God, we’re going to be monsters. The worst kind of fans – from grateful Cinderellas to high-maintenance divas in two years flat.
We’re expecting perfection, even with a second-year quarterback who’s never played a full season, let alone proved he can stay healthy through one. That makes me uneasy. There should never be this much optimism in something as unpredictable as sports. The fantasy that good things last forever has creeped over the mountains like fog to envelope the tech industry and Niner fans alike. Yet to my fog-clouded eyes, everything looks like a positive. The line is solid. The linebackers are a murderer’s row, and even if he’s getting old, Justin Smith’s Anheuser-Busch tattoo guarantees no one will f*ck with him because they’ll be too blinded by his awesomeness. Who knows with the secondary, but first-round pick Eric Reid looks good at safety so far. The receivers are half injured, but how can I be sad about Crabtree (my favorite athlete who looks like a doo-wop singer) when we’ve got my favorite non-49ers player of the last 10 years Anquan Boldin in the lineup? The guy broke his face apart and sat out two games. (Yes, you could point out that Kurt Warner was still an NFL quarterback when that play happened, but Boldin was still awesome last season and that’s enough for me). Oh, and three time Pro Bowler Kassim Osgood on special teams. At the very least, Ted Ginn won’t be around this year to make me call my poor Samsung a worthless, pass-dropping pile of shit. My TV doesn’t deserve that. It’s not the one with Crisco hands and the attention span of a chicken.
This to say nothing of the biggest silver-lining of them all: not having to feel bad after every Kaepernick first down when the camera cuts to Alex Smith on the sideline, his helmet still on like a sad puppy with a leash in his mouth, the only one in the house who doesn’t know he’s never going outside. Alex Smith, one of the nicest, most positive guys in the league, who did nothing but try his best, and after six years of nothing but getting booed, doubted, and publicly shat upon, went 13 and 3 and 6 and 2, in the kind of feel-good story you see on local news (Lord knows we saw 100 versions of it). And then he got benched, in a move only a bastard as heartless as Jim Harbaugh could make, a guy who’d shoot Old Yeller in the face if his new bachelor pad didn’t allow dogs. We doubted Harbaugh at the time, but that’s because, unlike Harbaugh, our decision making is clouded by things like empathy and human emotion. Now we know: don’t second guess a dead-eyed psychopath. Jim Harbaugh is exactly the kind of murderous single-minded sociopath this bleeding-heart city needs. He doesn’t believe in feelings, only brutal pragmatism. Where Singletary wore a big cross around his neck, Harbaugh wears a red pen, his only the God the Xs and Os of his own creation.
So yeah, we’ve got an injured receiver corps, a secondary full of question marks, and a lineup full of aging players in key positions, but none of that matters because we’ve still got Jim Harbaugh, The Guy Who Went 13 and 3 With Alex Fucking Smith. It’s quite possible we’re all just drunk on the smell of our own farts like always, but the man might as well coach with a spear and pith helmet because we’d follow him anywhere. Cult of Personality, the Great Man Theory, the Dream of Permanent Empire – the 2013 49ers are Teddy Roosevelt-era America. And God damn it, it feels good. At least for now.
*My favorite “everyone’s mean to Alex Smith” story was in the lean years, when Alex Smith was in the game and after throwing his umpteenth incomplete pass, someone in the stands supposedly yelled “PUT IN ALEX SMITH!”