Writer's Note: As long has been mentioned since I joined the staff three years ago, I am a dual fan of both the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans. Given this Sunday night's game, I was asked by our jovial and loving leader to explain how I became a servant of two masters on Sundays.
I have been a San Francisco 49ers fan since birth. Even though it was a family choice, when I got old enough to appreciate greatness, which was age four, I chose the 49ers.
I had a red 16 jersey and a white 80 jersey that I wore into the ground. My brother and I used to take turns pretending we were Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. I'd roll out, look downfield, and hit my brother in stride. He'd turn around, throw, and I'd snag passes as if I were the greatest football player of all-time.
Montana, Rice, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, Tom Rathman, John Taylor, Brent Jones, Garrison Hearst, Terrell Owens, and I could go on and on and on. I haven't even mentioned Jim Drukenmiller or Tim Rattay (AND I NEVER WILL...ASIDE FROM THIS JOKE). These are the guys I grew up watching with wondrous, wide eyes. These are the guys who carried me from July through January every single year.
I also loved the Madden NFL video games. When they put in franchise mode, I gobbled it up. I poured over coaching decisions, contracts, schemes, and loved making MY team. When the 49ers' glory started to fade, a team was being built in my hometown. It was sort of like a real life franchise mode. They would be an AFC team, so they weren't direct competition, and I was fascinated by every little announcement.
General manager, kind of turf at the stadium, sponsors, training staff and coaches, uniform colors, nickname, players scouted, and every little detail was reported. For someone who geeked out on franchise mode, I was in heaven. The 49ers dominated the fall and the soon-to-be-born Texans dominated the offseason news cycle. Houston's 19-10 inaugural victory over the long-hated, 49er-rivaling Dallas Cowboys sealed the deal for me. Before I knew it, I was watching two bad teams on Sundays for about eight or so years until they turned the corner at the same time.
This is how you become a dual fan. This is how you spend six hours every week watching two games and another countless number of hours keeping up with the news cycle in San Francisco and Houston while you live in Minnesota. Childhood nostalgia and adolescent curiosity meld together with two squads that only face each other once every four years, as they will this Sunday night.
At 2-2 and both being playoff contenders, this match-up between the 49ers and Texans will be unlike those in 2005 and 2009. It won't be two bad teams competing for Reggie Bush or one average team trying to sneak into wild card contention with a win over a bad Alex Smith-led team. This is two teams trying to keep pace with their respective division leaders.
While the 49ers aren't too worried after a dominating win over St. Louis, the Texans have to stop the bleeding for their own sanity and their fans. I don't know which victor would make me happier. The Texans desperately need it or this season may snowball into a disaster, but the fans burning jerseys and begging for T.J. Yates and Case Keenum make me turn the other red-and-gold cheek. Meanwhile, that side has seen fans rip a quarterback for wearing a baseball cap, and a team started a player after he had a brush with the law only to then send that player to rehab after the game. However, the 49ers are already two games back of Seattle. San Francisco could be three back if Houston wins and Seattle beats Indianapolis.
I cannot pick between either team. It remarkably feels the same. With a weak NFC East, the NFC's wild card race isn't as deep. The Texans do need it more. The AFC's crowded, with teams like Tennessee, Kansas City, and Miami at 3-1. Whether I think the Texans can win is another story for another day (FORESHADOWING!). I just know that either outcome on Sunday will be incredibly bittersweet for me. That's the life of fan duality.
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