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OPINION: Nostalgia goes a long way for this 49ers fan
It has been a long 18 years for the Faithful, and for this Niner fan, it seems like a lifetime since my team was on top.
Well, at least half a lifetime.
You see, I was born on a Sunday afternoon in December of 1977, the same year Eddie DeBartolo Jr. purchased the 49ers and the start of the Golden Era of football in San Francisco.
From preschool, elementary school, through junior high and into high school, I had the good fortune of witnessing some of the best teams and greatest players to ever don shoulder pads and a helmet.
From 1981 to 1994, the 49ers were the envy of the NFL, outclassing and outplaying opponents to the tune of five Super Bowl titles and nine NFC Championship Game appearances.
Those teams were so good, it was either Super Bowl or failure in many of those years, something that's hard to explain to Niner fans even 10 years younger than me.
Not even Bill Belichick's Patriots of recent seasons can match what those teams accomplished.
However, it all came with a price — it made me very spoiled.
For the eight seasons preceding the arrival of coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers were a shadow of their former selves and I was at a loss to explain it. At first I would blame the officials for a loss, then I would say "A play here and a play there they would have won," to finally "They're just not very good."
But now my team is on the cusp of a championship once again, and while I will stop short of putting this year's team up there with the great ones of the past, a record-tying sixth Lombardi Trophy may very well be in hand.
Here's three reasons why:
It all starts with the dudes up front, and in my eyes, the 49ers have the best unit in all of football.
The starting five of tackles Joe Staley and Anthony Davis, guards Mike Iupati and Alex Boone and center Jonathan Goodwin are each big, strong, and a little nasty to boot. Add to that some creative blocking schemes and exotic formations, and they truly are a force in pass protection, and more importantly, on the ground.
It's been said all year that they "impose their will" on defenses, and when all else fails, the Niners have had no problem running the ball right at teams. It's old-school football at its best, and in this era of high-flying passing games, it's nice to see a team just pound another one into oblivion.
One of the most underappreciated aspects of the game is taking the ball carrier to the ground, and this is where the 49ers truly excel.
With a stout defensive line, four All-Pro linebackers and a hard-hitting secondary, each level of San Francisco's defense can tackle — and inflict a little bit of pain in the process.
True, cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown may not be the best cover guys in the league, but both aren't afraid to step up and make a tackle in key situations.
Coach Harbaugh calls it "contact courage," and you best believe that each member of San Francisco's defense has it.
Throughout the Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary years, there was one thing that always bothered me about the 49ers — they were way too predictable on offense.
That's not the case any more.
With Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman calling the shots, the 49ers are as unpredictable as they are exciting. They pass out of running formations, run the ball when they're set up to pass, and with the emergence of quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the pistol, defenses are often left guessing where the ball is going.
Add it up, and I feel a win is in the works tonight.