These 49ers are trying to make news of their own

These 49ers are trying to make news of their own
January 28, 2013, 7:45 am
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The good-old days? Those are someone else’s, and it is both impolite and presumptuous to ask these players to make claim on that era. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

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The old folks like to joke that the young folks don’t know their history. And worse, that they don’t much care. They wag their fingers and tongues and cite Edmund Burke: “Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.”

But there is a point at which the truth is revealed. At this level, at the Super Bowl, in the world of athletics, history is not so much forgotten as it is regarded as something that belongs to someone else. History is what each individual or team makes on its own.

Thus it is that the 49ers come to New Orleans not to spray a new coat of gold on the 1980s and 1990s, but to make their own house. The five Super Bowls and the trophy case at 49ers Intergalactic Headquarters belong to, well, others.

Which is why, to the dismay of people with longer life spans and memories, tackle Joe Staley is right when he says, “Right now we are trying to establish our own identity. You do not want to live in the past and we are trying to create our own tradition and things that everybody can be excited about.”

And why linebacker Patrick Willis’ version of history runs only so far back:

“The 49ers had a tradition for a while where they were winning Super Bowls and contenders all the time,” he said. “They kind of went through a dry spell, so it feels good to be back. It feels good to be a part of what’s going on right now considering the first four years were pretty bad.”

And center Jonathan Goodwin, who grew up a 49er fan, has his own history as well. He has a Super Bowl ring he earned from his time with the Saints.

Therein lies one of the peripheral but still meaningful truths of this 49er team. The 49ers may be an enduring franchise, but too much time has passed between the true glory days and this still-brief renaissance. The deeds of the Walsh and Seifert years are just that – the deeds of the Walsh and Seifert years.

This 49ers team’s history goes back only as far as long snapper Brian Jennings, in fact, which was the tail end of the Steve Mariucci Era, and then nothing but hard times. His record is 103-112-1, and that’s better than any 49er who predates Jim Harbaugh.

The Super Bowl years, in short, belong to those who remember them, which is to say those players and much of the fan base. These 49ers have only a down payment on a dynasty starter home, and will forfeit their deposit if they lose Sunday to Baltimore.

It is simply the nature of things, at least in the short-attention-span world in which we now live. This may be a generational failure in some people’s eyes, but it is the fact – history goes not as far back as the book, but as far back as one can remember. “The greatest of all time” has been replaced by “The greatest I can remember, and no I don’t want to do any further research.”

Rage if you must, but these are the conditions that prevail.

So as Super Bowl Week goes on, and the nation’s media is killed by a steady stream of access that reveals as much about the questioners as the questioned, remember this: When a 49er player or coach is asked about the club’s history, he’ll give you two years, tops. Some may even stop after the biggest seismic event they know, the GQS – the Great Quarterback Switch.

But the good old days? Those are someone else’s, and it is both impolite and presumptuous to ask these players to make claim on that era.

Or, as the famed old radio newsman Scoop Nisker liked to say, “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.”

Which is exactly where the 49ers stand today – trying to make some news of their own.