I always hated the 49ers. I was out in the Bay Area fairly often in the early 90’s, and there have never been football fans who were more annoyingly confident while being simultaneously ignorant of the game. I came to hate them almost as much as I hated the Steelers and the Raidess, not just because they regularly knocked out good-but-not-great Vikings teams out of the playoffs, but because the way in which they won was irritating no matter who they beat. I looked forward to the day when Montana and Rice would be gone, Bill Walsh would be outdated and the franchise would return to the morass of mediocrity.
Then Walsh pulled Garcia out of his hat three years ago and I watched in disbelief as the 49ers somehow managed to stay in contention. But I knew the end was near when the new so-called brain trust brought in Dennis Erickson, who didn’t do much with the Seattle Seahawks the last time he was coaching in the league.
And yet, I find that while I’m pleased to see new powers rising in the NFC West – even if I still have to remind myself that the Seahawks are there – I can’t help but feel a mild tinge of regret for the lost era. I guess it’s easier to despise an arrogant winner than it is to derive real pleasure from kicking the formerly lofty when they’re down.