• Evan Sowards

My Road To Santa Clara

Growing up in Portland you’re not given a whole lot of choice in what you root for. I remember my dad would take me to the Portland Rockies and Beavers triple A baseball teams. As a life long baseball player and baseball fan, my father put Baseball at the forefront of my childhood hoping that I would grow as fond as he was to a sport that was such a staple to his youth. Whereas I loved the mini bats, and leaving the suburbs to go downtown to PGE Park to see the game, I always recognized that it wasn’t a major league team. It wasn’t the real deal.

Throughout my early years I was always around to watch the Portland Trailblazers with my dad whenever games were on as young as I could remember. At a young age I remember my dad yelling “get in the hole!” about as vividly as any other childhood memory I could think of. Between Clyde “the glyde” Drexler, Terry Porter, and the other early Blazers stars, they were the one significant Sports franchise the city of Portland had. In my youth that team was one of the best and Clyde always one of the best players on the floor no matter who they played. Their biggest problem they faced as a franchise, could easily be simply existing during the prime years of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

In my youth I was very active in sports between playing basketball and baseball. Football on the other hand, escaped me due to my parents worry of the violent nature of the sport, as well as my father's love for baseball. Be it my mischievous mentality, my want for things I wasn’t allowed to have, football became an early infatuation for me. At my earliest age, I remember my father watching the Vikings always in awe of Warren Moon and what he was able to do as a Quarterback. Football was a sport that didn’t command as much attention in my household as the other sports. That is of course until I saw a certain team that fit the exact mold I wanted. As early as I can remember my favorite color was always red. As I sit here writing this, I’m forced to recognize my red Nike Dri-Fit shirt while I drink from my red water bottle. When I first saw the San Francisco 49ers, I was much too young to know who Bill Walsh was or what the West Coast Offense meant. The one piece of that team that I recognized in all of its glory was their red jerseys.

My family will never have issue speaking on my early years as a 49er fan. Where I lacked complete knowledge of the sport, I thrived in my ability to cheer for the guys wearing those sweet red jerseys. As I grew older and and reached high school, I had fallen out of love with sports and sparked a new relationship with socializing, being a class clown, and girls. Where my classmates and closest friends played sports ranging from golf to lacrosse even to football, I could instead always be found talking to all different types of social groups. With this new found energy, I left sports at the wayside. Although my focus was away, I always saved just enough interest to stay up to date with the 49ers. When people asked me if I was a Trailblazers fan, I would always respond with “I’m a 49ers fan first, I only have so much tolerance for heartbreak”.

I’m not sure whether it was being a Blazers fan, being a 49ers fan, or just the way I was raised in general, being a fan of underdogs was built into my DNA at an early age. It’s always driven my thought process when rooting for sports. My need to root for the underdog reached its apex with Alex Smith. Speeding through Alex’s hardships all those early years, it was around the hire of Mike Singletary that my passion of the 49ers became an obsession. With 49ers Twitter starting to really exist as a community, I found a home where my obsession could really grow.

I was the loud, proud, Alex Smith supporter. The first person to scream “he’s had a new offensive coordinator every year!” every Tuesday night for dollar beers. I lived in Portland, the closest football team we had was the Seahawks. Where the amount of Seahawks fans was almost non existent, any and every fan I could find, I would proudly challenge them at the beginning of each season about how this was the 49ers year! From Alex finally getting a good coach in Singletary, to him having a tenured offensive coordinator who would know how to use him in Jimmy Raye (hah!), I was ready and willing to argue with anyone. Glen Coffee was the next Garrison Hearst!

After the inevitable firing of Mike Singletary, the world of 49ers Twitter was at an all time high. There were writers to follow, budding personalities like Tre9er, grantmp1, and TheJamieNeal to consistently have news or discussion on any and everything related to our team. This seemed to have come at the perfect time with the courting of Stanford head coach and seemingly always winning Jim Harbaugh. With the chase to hire Jim Harbaugh, fans everywhere relished in the idea of having that big exciting piece of the puzzle to really make our team a contender. Did he ever do that.

Since then I’ve had some pretty amazing times as a 49ers fan. I’ve watched Alex Smith come back from the title of “draft bust” to throwing the touchdown pass to Vernon Davis to beat the Saints in one of the best games in the history of the NFL. I’ve watched a young second round pick in Colin Kaepernick set the world on fire as he redefined what it meant to be a mobile quarterback. I moved to Scottsdale Arizona in the heart of enemy territory with a division rival the Arizona Cardinals. There I found one of the best 49ers Satellite groups 2 blocks from my apartment! The AZ49erEmpire at GringoStar bar gave me a sense of what I never had in Portland to be surrounded by 49ers fans. Which certainly made watching them lose to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game a little easier to bear. I’ve moved back to Portland and joined an amazing group of 49ers fans to start a podcast, and be apart of a truly great and professional group of people who never cease to amaze me.

Here I am, writing my first article ever on the subject of the San Francisco 49ers. For no reason other than I love this team, and I love the community it’s brought me to. With no true experience writing, this very much so comes straight from my heart, straight from my soul. I can’t wait to see where this team and this fan base takes me next. I only know that wherever that is, I’ll be screaming and jumping up and down rooting for my Niners, no matter where I am.