Mother’s Day: 12 favorite 49ers memories I’ve shared with my mom
My parents are both huge sports fans – an interest of theirs that naturally seeped into my upbringing. Summer nights around the dinner table featured the NBA and NHL playoffs, or an A’s game, or Sportscenter if there wasn’t a game on. My mom is the 49ers fan of the pair, and with dad’s Raiders in Southern California during my formative years, mom and her 49ers season tickets won out in establishing my football fandom.
I was lucky enough to go to my first game with her in 1998 when I was eight years old (more on this later), and to go through the highs and lows that followed. Whether we were going to games together, watching from home, or text messaging each other throughout the games once I moved away for college – the 49ers remained (and still remain) a focal point of our relationship.
So, for Mother’s Day, here are my favorite 49ers moments I shared with my mom:
October 18, 1998 | 49ers vs. Colts
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This was the first game we ever went to together, and it was completely bonkers looking back on it now. The details of the game are insane with some of the players that were in it and the comeback the 49ers made, but what I remember most is sitting there on an unseasonably hot San Francisco day, baking in the upper deck of Candlestick Park. My mom told me all about how weathering the elements was just part of going to games at the ‘Stick.
She pointed out things during pre-game warm ups, including Jerry Rice’s jog up the sideline and around the back of the end zone where he stopped and pointed up toward where we were sitting. To this day pre-game warmups and players’ idiosyncrasies as they get ready for games are among my favorite parts of attending NFL games.
September 20, 2010 | Saints vs. 49ers
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This was my first Monday Night Football game. San Francisco lost when the Saints’ last-second field goal attempt snuck through the uprights despite getting tipped at the line. It didn’t matter though. The game was awesome. When ESPN threw to the broadcast crew, the Candlestick speakers blared with the MNF theme song and the electricity that rippled through the crowd was unlike anything I’d ever experienced at a football game.
It was an incredible game and Mom and I were buzzing about it the whole way home. The vibe was amazing, Alex Smith outplayed Drew Brees, and the 49ers’ defense started to show that it was on its way to being a championship-caliber unit. This one set the tone for some of the ones down the road.
October 2, 2011 | 49ers at Eagles
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We didn’t attend this one, but it stands out for a very particular reason. My mom and I used to text back-and-forth during every game when I moved to Sacramento for college. When San Francisco went down 23-3 somewhere in the middle of the third quarter, I got mad and didn’t want to text anymore. Then the comeback happened. Frank Gore plowed in from 12 yards out with three minutes left to give the 49ers the lead, and then Justin Smith forced a fumble on Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Dashon Goldson dove on it – 49ers’ ball. Ball game over. The 49ers were back.
I immediately texted my mom after the game ended and being superstitious informed her no more talking during games. After games, absolutely. During? No more. The Jim Harbaugh era was off to a roaring start and we were having a blast. More on the text jinx later.
December 19, 2011 | 49ers vs. Steelers
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This was another Monday Night Football game. Ben Roethlisberger played hurt and threw three interceptions. My mom and I had a great time talking trash with a bunch of Steelers fans in our section. Two of them left without a word after the 49ers made it 20-3. Another guy sat there and wore it for all 60 minutes.
Each game got bigger for the 49ers during this season, but that MNF atmosphere with maybe 35 percent of the building full of Steelers fans was incredible.
December 24, 2011 | 49ers at Seahawks
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This is another one we weren’t at in person, but mom and I watched at a bar in Lake Tahoe where we were visiting for Christmas. I’d turned 21 that August and we, along with a couple cousins, put back several libations and watched the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry begin.
The reason this one jumps out is because when Larry Grant, who was starting for the injured Patrick Willis, strip-sacked Tarvaris Jackson – I started yelling and pounding on the bar. My mom calmly leaned over and quietly said, “you’re being that guy right now.”
Never be that guy at the bar, folks.
January 1, 2012 | 49ers at Rams
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This game is entirely inconsequential except for the texting thing. Remember that? Yeah. It’s real. Here’s how this went down:
– 49ers running back Anthony Dixon scores a touchdown to give San Francisco a 34-13 lead with 6:30 left. They’re all set to finish 13-3 and cruise into the postseason with a first-round bye and home-field advantage.
– Mom texts me asking if we’re safe to text now. I respond with something like “yeah I think it’s safe now.”
– The Rams score a touchdown with a five-play, 69-yard drive capped by a 36-yard Brandon Lloyd touchdown with 4:57 left.
– The Rams recover the onside kick.
– Pass interference on the 49ers in the end zone on the Rams’ first play after the onside kick.
– St. Louis scores one play later to make it a 34-27 49ers lead with 4:39 left.
That’s right, the Rams racked up 14 points in less than 2 minutes of game time after my mom and I broke our no-texting rule. They actually got a chance to tie it after the 49ers punted the ensuing possession, but their defense came up with the last stop they needed to ice the game. To this day, in-game communication is minimal.
January 14, 2012 | 49ers vs. Saints
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The 2012 Divisional Playoff between the 49ers and Saints at Candlestick Park was my first NFL postseason experience. Everything that could possibly be said about this game has already been said, but being there with mom made an already incredible in-person sports experience even better.
One thing that stands out – I was a wreck as the teams went back-and-forth in the final few minutes. As Alex Smith and the offense took the field for their final drive I was muttering something about being nervous and my mom, very calmly said, “they’re fine. They’re gonna be fine.” And she was absolutely right.
The moral of this story is: Always listen to mom.
November 19, 2012 | 49ers vs. Bears
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Colin Kaepernick’s starting debut wasn’t a slam dunk to go well. It was Monday Night Football against a Bears defense that was shattering turnover records. They had 30 takeaways in their first nine games. They had none against Kaepernick and the 49ers that night.
There was a play on the 49ers’ second series where Kaepernick connected with Kyle Williams on a deep shot for 57 yards. The play was coming right toward our seats, and while the ball was in the air my mom yelled, “got him!” And after the play during the celebration said, “I think we’ve got a quarterback!” It was an awesome confluence of events early on in an incredible game that San Francisco went on to win 32-7. Aldon Smith had 5.5 sacks. It was a great time, but that Kaepernick throw and my mom’s reaction to it stand out above everything else.
January 12, 2013 | 49ers vs. Packers
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This one is special because I wasn’t in attendance with my mom. I was on the East Coast and flying back the day of the game, so my plane was in the air at kickoff. My mom went with her dad, who was also a huge 49ers fan.
Kaepernick went off in this game for 263 yards in the air and 181 on the ground in a 45-31 victory for San Francisco. I watched most of it from a bar in an almost-empty terminal at SFO. Mom and grandpa picked me up after the game and all we talked about the whole way home was how awesome the game was.
My grandfather passed away sixth months later, making this the last game they’d go to together. Because of that, this game holds an incredibly special place in both of our hearts.
January 20, 2013 | 49ers at Falcons
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Stressing through the NFC championship while my mom tried to get me to calm down became a bit of a running joke for awhile. Sprinting out of the house when the clock ran out and then running back in to hug my mom was one of my high points as a sports fan. The 49ers for the first time in my cognizant life were heading to the Super Bowl.
Later that evening we were rewatching the game and my mom said to me, “I’m just so glad you get to experience this.” I’d been regaled with tales of awesome 49ers teams my entire life, and this was when it sank in that I was living it for the first time.
December 23, 2014 | 49ers vs. Falcons
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By December 2014 I’d moved to Arizona. I wasn’t going to miss the final game at Candlestick though, so I flew up and went with mom, of course.
The NaVorro Bowman pick-six happened in front of us, but on the opposite end of the field. When he made the interception, there was just a mass of bodies and we couldn’t really figure out what happened until the No. 53 jersey emerged running toward us. Then it was bedlam. In the chaos I accidentally broke my mom’s 49ers bracelet she’d worn to games since forever. It didn’t matter though. Candlestick was going out with a W.
That stadium was built on historic moments, and it didn’t feel like it’d ever get bigger than the Vernon Davis touchdown against the Saints in the playoffs. The Bowman touchdown to shut down the stadium passed it though. It was the perfect way to say goodbye, and I was so excited to have gotten to do so with the person who built my fandom.
The next day we flew to Southern California to be with family for Christmas. While we were at the airport I saw a photo on Twitter of Bowman diving into the end zone. I sent it to Mom. It’s still her phone’s lock screen almost seven years later.
January 19, 2020 | 49ers vs. Packers
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My job makes it impossible to go to games with mom anymore. She attended the 2019 NFC championship game with a friend she shares season tickets with, while I wrote about the game from home.
Nevertheless, she decided to break the texting rule after Raheem Mostert’s first touchdown. And his second. And his third. And his fourth. All of them came with exclamation points, emojis — the works.
I got more texts at halftime, and a phone call from the stands after the game that was just a bunch of loud screaming and yelling from my mom and 68,000 of her closest friends. I couldn’t understand a word of her phone call. Then I got a text: “WE’RE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!!!!!!!!!!”
Nobody in my life was more excited about the 49ers that day than my mom. And whether I was at the game with her or not, her love of her favorite team and her joy that evening was enough to make it one of my favorite 49ers games of all-time.