MIAMI — The 1981 49ers.
The 2010 Giants.
The 2015 Warriors.
….. and the 2019 49ers?
That’s what we’re here in Miami to find out — after dodging radio pitches for tequila, athletic tape, medical websites, ticket brokers and supply chain stores.
Will Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers join these exalted list of “first-timers” for a generation?
(And yes, I am calling them the ‘2019’ 49ers even though the calendar says 2020; NFL teams are defined by their regular season calendar, and I won’t budge on that one.)
Of course, the 1975 Warriors won the NBA championship, so 2015 was not the “first” time. But to a generation of Drake-downloading kids, the 1975 Warriors might as well have been playing in powdered wigs.
And of course, the 49ers have won five previous Super Bowl titles.
But, this team, this roll, this energy, it feels . . . different.
If you catch my drift.
What I’m saying is, the 2019 49ers have all the hallmarks of the magical “The Catch” 49ers/the “Torture” Giants/and the fresh-faced, ball-movement Dubs.
They exude the joy of the first climb up the championship mountain, and all that it entails.
How fans feel a freshness among the faces.
How the team plays even larger than the sum of its parts.
How a positive energy translates to the fanbase, and to the league.
George Kittle is howling pro wrestling phrases and speaking in mock Canadian accents. Raheem Mostert is a symbol for perseverance to all. Jimmy Garoppolo has all the cockiness of the son of a blue-collar electrician, which to say he has no cockiness at all — only a Midwestern humility his teammates love.
Nick Bosa oozes talent out of every muscle, and disarms all with Klay Thompson-styled drollness. Richard Sherman roars like a proud old lion, showing the cubs the way. Deebo Samuel gallops with a youthful physicality. Dre Greenlaw conjures up memories of Dan Bunz, and the 45-and-over crowd feels a warm tingle.
There are a handful of special teams in Bay Area history. These are the above named. They took you on that magical ride and it all felt fresh. It felt exhilarating. It felt new.
The John Lynch-Shanahan 49ers feel fresh. Exhilarating. New.
And yes, full credit to Jed York for keeping at it until he got it right. Like the team, he, too, is improving before our eyes. As much as we all enjoyed the 2011-13 run, and the 2012 team that reached the Super Bowl, not everyone loved Colin Kaepernick kissing his biceps, or 49ers players in the police blotter, or Jim Harbaugh’s peculiar ways.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who can muster much hate for the 2019 49ers. Creating hostility or tension is not their bag.
There are plenty of Xs and Os reasons why the 49ers will win Super Bowl LIV.
They have the superior defense, and superior defenses win Super Bowls. They have the superior run game, and superior run games win football games and bleed the clock.
But mostly they will win because they personify cohesion and chemistry; because time and time again they have proved that ineffable quality known as championship fiber. At New Orleans. At Seattle. Executing brilliantly under playoff pressure.
The 49ers will win because Lynch and his personnel group have cobbled together the right mix of personalities and talent. Because, as Tim Ryan tells us every Monday, there are “no dirt balls” in the locker room.
Having no dirt balls matters.
Yes, Patrick Mahomes will lead the Chiefs to three touchdowns. But Garoppolo will lead the 49ers to three, also; and Robbie Gould, a Super Bowl veteran, will boot a couple of field goals.
The 49ers will win, 27-21, and it will feel warm and familiar and it will be full of joy. That’s what the 2019 49ers have in common with those 1981 49ers, those 2010 Giants, those 2015 Warriors. It will be just like Walsh’s 1981 crew bursting on the scene in year three.
They will bring you great happiness on Super Bowl Sunday, sports fans. The 2019 49ers are an idea whose time has come.