After all the chatter about Guinness records and the overwhelming home field advantage at CenturyLink, Seahawks fans started getting pretty chirpy this past week. They staged a fan rally at Pier 39 on Saturday night. Yesterday morning, I saw a packed SUV full of Hawks fans yell “Montana Sucks! Seahawks … wooooo!” at a guy walking down the street wearing a No. 16 jersey in my neighborhood. A group got together and paid for a plane to tote a banner that flew in circles over the stadium before the contest.
But instead of turning Candlestick Park into the southern home of the “12th Man,” there appeared to be about 12 Seahawks fans present once the game started.
Sorry, couldn’t help but kid the Seahawks fans a little bit after the 49ers prevailed in another close, tense battle against Seattle at The Stick. There were certainly more than a dozen Seattle fans at the game, but this was by no means a hostile takeover. I sat in Lower Box Section 7, and I only could only spot two Seahawks jerseys from where I was standing — both worn by people who were either alone or with 49ers fans. There were fans in the restroom lines and walking together throughout the concourse wearing visiting team jerseys, but not in greater numbers than when the Rams, Packers, or even Texans were in town.
Throw in the reports that SFPD had people in Seahawks gear walking through the stadium to bait drunk 49ers fans into some bad decisions, and the percentage of visiting fans drops even lower.
How many fans who attended that rally also bought tickets to the game? While the Pier 39 story brings to mind visions of Virgin America planes en route from Seattle to San Francisco on Friday and Saturday, packed with Seahawks supporters all vying to sit in Row 12, Seat 12 (“What do you mean, not available?!?!”), that’s probably not what really went down. Seattle and San Francisco are destination cities, and as such they’re both full of “transplants.” Several Bay Area natives make Seattle their home, and vice versa. With an 11-1 record that many believed they had helped create to a certain extent, Seahawks supporters who now live in San Francisco, Walnut Creek or San Mateo are prouder than ever to show their neon colors — even in enemy territory.
But most of them probably congregated in friendly living rooms, or in a Seahawks bar. I’m not aware of any such watering hole in San Francisco, but at least one probably exists. Before we were allowed to stake out the back room at Northstar Cafe in North Beach for our most recent BASG Meetup, the place was filled with Eagles and Bills fans. Apparently Northstar has been a Bills bar for years, and Eagles fans have followed suit. Zeke’s is a Packers bar. I’ve heard of Steelers bars and Patriots bars throughout the city too, that’s what happens when a city is popular (conversely, it’s hard to imagine a 49ers or Seahawks bar in Buffalo or Detroit).
I took a look around the stadium as Phil Dawson set the ball on the tee for the opening kickoff, and all I saw was red. When the Seahawks kept the 49ers out of the end zone or scored touchdowns themselves, there were a few cheers, but those were mostly drowned out by groans from Niners fans. None of this is a knock on Seahawks fans (except the guy who ripped Joe Montana, maybe). It’s pretty hard to show up in huge numbers when the team you’re playing is coming off two deep playoff runs and also happens to really dislike your squad.