Jay Cutler

Who says NFL games are better on TV?

Candlestick park
Can we just take a moment and give it up for tailgating? With astronomical parking, ticket and concession prices, high-def TV’s and traffic to and from the stadium, many feel like going to NFL games is an activity that has long outlived its usefulness.

Ha. Forget that idea right now.

49ers TailgateYesterday SGL and I left work early to go to our first Niner game since a young(er) Shaun Hill led the 49ers to victory over an awful Cincinnati Bengals team in December of 2007. We had a great time, but yesterday’s 10-6 win over the Bears trumped that experience and every other professional sports outing I’ve been on in the past three years at the very least.

First, we left work early and took the back way to The Stick. Good plan. Only took us 15 minutes to get there, and we were parked and tailgating by 1:30. There were tons of Bears fans all over the place (more on that in a sec) in current and throwback jerseys, but we settled in near the back fence (that’s right, we didn’t even have to park on the dirt) and commenced drinking and barbecuing sausages and veggie burgers on the grill.

Soon some guy rolled up in a big-ass Ford truck (bumping into the guy parked in front of him in the process), pulled out a gigantic speaker attached to a generator and started playing old school Ice Cube, bay area rap and Michael Jackson at about 150 decibels.

It was awesome.

After consuming roughly 4,500 calories each in three hours time, we rolled into the stadium and took our seats, which aren’t on a very steep incline so we had to stand the whole time.

Bears NinersAt the beginning, the Bear-fan contingent seemed pretty strong, but a striking thing happened: the 49ers fans collectively stepped their games up and shouted the Chicago fans down. I know, big deal at the home field. But as someone who’s been to several A’s games against the Red Sox and Giants games versus the Cubs, Bay Area fans aren’t exactly the best at taking control of their own stadium.

But as the game went on, those swing passes to Matt Forte only brought light screams, while every defensive stand for the 49ers was backed by some of the most insane screaming I’ve ever witnessed at a sporting event. I have no idea how the atmosphere came across on TV, but I’m sure SGL and I weren’t the only ones who lost their voices by the third quarter.

Sure, it’s nice to have the extra viewing angles TV provides (although props to the 49ers for showing negative replays on the big screen now; they didn’t do that when I had season tickets back in 2001, that’s for sure), as my coworker told me that 2 of Jay Cutler’s 5 picks weren’t exactly his fault after I wondered aloud if Cutler spent last night throwing the game like he was the NFL’s version of Nikolay Davydenko.

Still, last night gave me faith in sports around here. The fans showed up, tailgated and yelled like rockstars, and I can’t help but feel like we were key to the 49ers winning the most important game Mike Singletary’s been a part of since the 1985 Super Bowl. To anyone who says NFL games are best viewed from the comfort of their own home, just try tailgating and yelling your ass off. You might like it.

Candlestick at night

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