For a region going thru an apocalyptic nightmare of air quality, fire destruction and a crippling pandemic, we sure do it have good on the sports scene.
Just wanted to break the tension a little bit there.
I’m only half-kidding, though.
If we spent all our energy on the anxiety- and depression-causing woes racking our region, we’d be catatonic.
Instead, we have the shiny object of sports to salvage our sanity.
We can tune in to KNBR and listen to Kapler’s Kids crushing balls all over Oracle Park, tearing off 15 wins in 20 games, and in three short weeks validating the whole new era of baseball in town.
And if that’s not pleasantly distracting enough, now we get . . . the 49ers!
The Niners! Back in our lives!
You have to admit, if we’re going to live in on an uninhabitable planet, we might as well be able to stay indoors and watch the 49ers on hi-def TVs —with the volume turned down and Greg Papa and Tim Ryan on our audio feeds.
Handsome Jimmy G! Wacky George Kittle! Sackin’ Nick Bosa! Elder statesman Richard Sherman! Tacklin’ Fred Warner! Trucker Hat Kyle!
Yes, I’m doling out exclamation points like Kyle Shanahan designs yard-gaining plays, but forgive me — enthusiasm is easy to embrace these days. Don’t forget, a few months ago, Paulie Mac, Copes and I were killing time with ‘The List’, power-ranking the “Top 3 Songs That Defined the 1990s”.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
So forgive me my excitement. Yes, I want the NFL to do it safely and correctly; to keep the dreaded virus at bay. Based on MLB’s relative success, and the NBA’s crazy good success with the bubble, I have faith that the almighty NFL can pull it off. And when they do, we are rewarded with Fantasy Football smack talk among comrades, RedZone binges and massive caloric intakes on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights.
As for the 49ers, I think the macro view is all good — for the first time since the Jim Harbaugh salad days, the team should be a contender in back-to-back seasons. Shanahan has proven himself a dazzling play-caller. Robert Saleh has proven himself a rock-solid defensive coordinator. Nick Bosa looks like a baby Justin Smith in the making. Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk are two first-rounders looking to make an impact. The running back room is chock full. George Kittle is young, paid and productive as all heck. And Jimmy Garoppolo enters his second full season and last year he won at New Orleans and at Seattle and . . . what, you still mad about the fourth quarter at Super Bowl 54?
All right, all right. So the other part of the ‘macro’ on the 49ers is handling the last seven minutes of last February’s last game of the year.
So much has to go right to get to a Super Bowl: Dre Greenlaw needs to make the Tackle of the Decade. The Seahawks have to commit a delay-of-game penalty. Kittle needs to turn a 4th-and-2 in New Orleans into an eternal highlight. Jeff Wilson, Jr. needs to catch a blind pass from Garoppolo to squeak past Arizona. Injuries can’t happen. Playoff draws need to break your way.
And it’s hard to replicate. There’s a reason why only three teams in history have lost a Super Bowl, then come back to win one the next year: the 1971 Cowboys, 1972 Dolphins and 2018 Patriots. That history is daunting.
You can’t change that, but what are you going to do, not try?
It’s 49ers season, like it has been every September since 1946 in our beloved, beleaguered Bay Area. That matters.