Remember how I had a Washingtonian in San Francisco talk about the Washington Redskins vs. San Francisco 49ers earlier? Now, I’m having a Northern Californian in Washington do the same. Tom Bridge of welovedc.com talks about his Niners.
WFY: After being everybody’s trendy sleeper pick for a couple of years, the 49ers are finally playing well again. Excited?
TB: Are you kidding me? It’s like an old friend moving back to town. When I was younger, the 49ers were so dominant that “Montana to Rice” and “Young to Rice” were givens on any given Sunday. We used to get annoying lectures from the priests in our parish that it wasn’t right to pray for the 49ers, not just because it was vain, but because they already had God’s ear. The last decade or so has been really hard, not having a team to really root for, one with a chance, has been really hard. I’ve taken refuge in the success of my wife’s Steelers but it hasn’t been the same.
WFY: Having grown up in Northern California but lived in Washington for most of the last decade, how does the football fan cultures compare?
TB: There are die-hards, and then there are die-hards. Washington is the latter. The love of this city for its football team is both impressive and a bit disconcerting at times. The last decade or so has been hard on Skins fans, but their devotion hasn’t wavered, despite controversies of coaching, quarterback, ownership, general manager, and pretty much everything else, cheerleaders included. It’s impressive. 49ers fans aren’t much different, but it does seem the Skins fans are a special group. Sometimes in the short bus sense of the word.
WFY: Every now and then I check in on the stadium situation — are they still headed to Santa Clara or do you think the city will somehow find a way to keep them in the city?
TB: I think they’ll wind up in Santa Clara, barring some sort of interference that isn’t on anyone’s radars now. Joe Montana is an investor in a hotel across the street from the proposed stadium site. I think if Joe’s on board, it’s pretty much gonna happen.
WFY: Do you miss former head coach Mike Singletary? How do you feel about current coach Jim Harbaugh?
TB: About Singletary… it’s hard. I wanted to like Singletary so much, but he was totally unable to keep the team together. So far, Harbaugh seems to have done what Singletary could not, and for that, I doff my cap.
WFY: Has Alex Smith finally turned the corner at QB? I understand he is a free agent after this season and I know a team that needs a QB. Also, do Niner fans constantly hold up QBs to the standards set by Joe Montana and Steve Young?
TB: It’s hard not to compare people to the greats in their lives. 49ers fans were incredibly lucky to get two of the top ten all-time quarterbacks back-to-back in Young and Montana. Anyone who picks up the wristband thereafter will play in their shadows, it’s how these things work. Every coach in Washington is compared to the almighty Gibbs. Every quarterback in San Francisco is compared to Young and Montana. Some people can’t cope, and they fail under that pressure. It’s nothing personal.
WFY: Is this the first time the 49ers have played here since you arrived in D.C.? Are you going?
TB: I think they were here last in 05? I am not going. I cannot stand Dan Snyder and refuse to give him money. Plus, I’m not one for being the guy in the stands wearing the opponent’s team jersey.
WFY: How did the Niners do on their uniform reboot? Seems to me they got it mostly right, but the sleeves are stupid and the new SF logo should have been dumped for the old one.
TB: It’s funny – I just bought my first jersey, a Jerry Rice throw-back.
WFY: Did winning Super Bowl XIX help take the sting out of the Redskins 1983-84 NFC Championship victory?
TB: Anytime you win the Super Bowl, it’s a great moment, but losses like the NFC Championship in 83/84 never hurt less than they do at the time.
WFY: How do you see this one going down? Do the Skins have a chance?
TB: I think the 49ers are going to stomp the Skins. I think it’ll be a win by at least two touchdowns. The 49ers have been winning their games with defense, and the Skins have struggled to protect the pocket all year. I fully expect them to wreck the O-line of the Skins all game long.