I've been a San Francisco 49ers fan for a long time. Sadly, not long enough to really remember the golden years. When Joe Montana won his last Super Bowl with the 49ers I was only five years old. I turned ten a few months before Steve Young led the team to victory in 1994. Other than some celebratory fragments, what I remember are "the Dark Times"—that sad stretch of football history that started in earnest in 2003 and only came to an end with the arrival of Jim Harbaugh in 2010. Those were my golden years, 2010-2013. Three trips to the NFC Championship Game, none won or lost easily (and I agree with Richard Sherman, the 49ers-Seahawks NFC Championship Game was that year's real Super Bowl). A memorable, albeit ultimately devastating, Harbowl. And now, after a lackluster 8-8 season last year, the dark days appear to be hovering on the peripheries again in the wake of Harbaugh's departure.
Even if you were okay with the new 49ers stadium being closer to San Jose than it is to San Francisco, even if you could wrap your mind around the management forcing Harbaugh out of the franchise (especially considering the ugliness of the years preceding his arrival), even if you could handle Vic Fangio not being given the head coaching gig and then leaving for Chicago, even if you could deal with the fact that the 49ers couldn't even assemble a full coaching staff until February (and missed out on a number of intriguing candidates) despite the quickness of Harbaugh's departure, what's happened over the last few days has to have you worried about the near future of the Crimson and Gold.
Frank Gore is gone, despite Jed York's promise to find a way to re-sign him. (Though Frank may not being going to Philadelphia, as was reported yesterday). The man has been the heart of the franchise for ten years. There isn't enough that can be said about Frank Gore or his impact on the team. Losing him is a serious blow. Yes, I know he's in his twilight years. That doesn't mean he can't find a way to help a team win, and his locker room presence is legendary. I like Carlos Hyde, I really do, but you can't tell me with a straight face that the kid couldn't benefit from the mentorship of Frank Gore. The team already lost a great football mind in Jim Harbaugh, now they've lost their heart.
If that wasn't enough, Patrick Willis is retiring. Justin Smith is considering retiring. Mike Iupati is signing with the Arizona Cardinals. Rumors circulate about Colin Kaepernick being up for a trade. I'll be interested to see what Darnell Dockett can do, but he's the only person who has been reportedly signed by the 49ers during this stunning exodus. I can't imagine Dockett's terribly excited about joining a defense that may possibly be lacking not only Patrick Willis and Mike Iupati, but possibly Justin Smith as well. (And yes, I've heard Crabtree may be leaving, too. Not considering that a serious blow to the team.)
I had just started warming up a bit to Jim Tomsula, too. As a fan, there's not much you can do about a coach being shown the door. (Well, other than rant on Twitter, but that hasn't helped me much in my life.) I sat back and said to myself, "Hey, at least we've still got Frank Gore, and Greg Roman is gone so maybe we'll use him effectively for a change. Kaepernick has been working on his technique in the offseason, even got himself a mentor. I'll keep my fingers crossed. The team's got a damn fine defense. Yeah, alright. Let's see what Tomsula cat can do." At the moment, looks like the man is going to have to work miracles to just get back to another .500 season.
Beyond just losing a great head coach, a star running back, and at least two members of a formidable defensive squad, the 49ers seem to have lost direction. They appear to be in freefall. The only real questions are, "Can this team avoid a total collapse" and "If not, how much is this going to hurt?"
And I just got an update on my phone that Bruce Miller was arrested on suspicion of spousal battery...
You've got to be fucking kidding me.
Guess I moved to Seattle at the right time.