Spencer's kindness strikes chord with lifelong 49ers fan

Spencer's kindness strikes chord with lifelong 49ers fan
January 21, 2012, 8:21 pm
Share This Post

SANTA CLARA -- Cornerback Shawntae Spencer is the longest-tenured 49ers player who has never appeared in an NFL playoff game.And that might not change Sunday, either.Spencer, an eight-year veteran, was inactive for the 49ers' divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. And there's a strong chance second-year player Tramaine Brock -- and not Spencer -- will again be in uniform as the 49ers' fourth cornerback in the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants.But in the eyes of one 49ers fan, Spencer has performed extraordinary acts in a season in which he suited up for just nine of the 49ers' 17 games.
Jim Barone was with his wife and son dining at San Jose's Santana Row about two months ago. Spencer was at the same restaurant with former 49ers strength coach Terrell Jones."I explained to him in detail how much of a diehard I am," Barone recalled. "Twenty minutes later, he said he would send us some tickets."Said Spencer, "Our tables were next to each other. Somehow, we sparked a conversation. As the conversation went on, he talked about how he was a lifelong Niner fan. We talked. I ended up signing a napkin or something for him and we took a picture. I told him, 'If you just give me your information, I'll send you something.'"Weeks passed without any contact, and Barone said he figured Spencer had forgotten."As time went on, holidays and all that craziness, I kind of got behind," Spencer said. "But I didn't forget about him. I had some extra tickets for the game. So I had those sent to him."Barone was shocked last week to receive Spencer's tickets in lower reserved Section 16 to the 49ers' divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints."Please, please tell him for us this was the most incredible experience and we are so, so grateful for his kindness," Barone told CSNBayArea.com. "I've been a 'Faithful' for 25 years, and this was hands-down the greatest game ever."But the story does not end there.This week, Barone received another message that Spencer had something else waiting for him at 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara. When Barone arrived, he was presented with a 49ers helmet. Spencer had each of his teammates autograph it for Barone.Said Spencer, "He was a good guy. Nice family, funny kid. His little boy was so funny. I enjoy doing those things. It's not the first time I've done it. And for however long I play, it won't be the last, either."Spencer said he observed those random -- and not-so random -- acts of kindness from Bryant Young, one of the all-time 49ers greats."I got these ideas from Bryant Young," Spencer said. "I used to see him do all these good things my rookie year."So beginning with his second season in the NFL, Spencer began getting gifts for 49ers employees, including those who work in janitorial services. This year, Spencer delivered iPads for the equipment room staff and Google TVs for the training staff.
"His kindness is beyond anything I have experienced," Barone said.