I was there when the first golden shovels hit the dirt in Santa Clara, and I got the pictures to prove it. That’s really what’s important, right? No real news came out of Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony in the shadows of Great America’s “Top Gun” roller coaster, unless you count Jed York announcing that the 49ers would bid to host the Super Bowl in 2016 and 2017. And if that doesn’t work, they’ll surely bid for 2018, 2019, 2020 … they’re building a new stadium, of course they want to be in the rotation.
York was the supposed star of this show, Jim Harbaugh was the one who provided the entertainment — as usual. Want to take a photo journey to Santa Clara? C’mon, you don’t even have to take CalTrain or click through an annoying slideshow!
If you’re a big fan of giant machinery and footballs, this was the event for you.
I wasn’t kidding.
For those interested in what’s actually going on outside the video screens, stage, faux field, seats and painted “ground” to be broken, I took a picture of the surrounding area to the northwest…
And to the north…
A few 49ers were interviewed before the ceremony commenced, including Joe Staley (missed that one) and Patrick Willis (asked him about the Madden Curse). But York’s group session brought the most attention.
Alex Smith was there with his son, but didn’t take part in the ceremony itself … despite this sincere gesture from Trent Baalke (who’s the guy in the middle?).
Soon people got on the stage and started saying good things about each other and themselves (especially the politicians). Here were the two 49ers players who made their way up to the podium:
When Harbaugh came on stage, 99% of the crowd got about as close as we could to experiencing what it’d like to listen to one of his pregame speeches. I was almost ready to put on one of those Niners hardhats and start digging after hearing this:
After the speeches it was photo op digging time. Golden shovels, red dirt, then a catered appetizer-fest with an open bar for some season ticketholders. The first diggers, which included Denise Debartolo York:
Hopefully we’ll see a re-creation of this photo after Super Bowl XLVII (only with Harbaugh looking happier … and wearing a black Niners sweatshirt and khakis):
“Nobody here can fathom the hell we’re going to unleash on the National Football League with a full off-season to prepare.”
Time for some more diggin’! (Third from the left, from left to right: Gideon Yu, Baalke, York and Paraag Marathe):
One more time: PARAAG.
Here’s Vernon, who also shoveled dirt onto Roman Harper during the NFC Divisional Game (in a metaphorical sense):
Are you still with us? Well, you stuck around for the best part of the 49ers’ New Santa Clara Stadium Groundbreaking — the time when Jim Harbaugh started digging. Not pretend digging. Really. Digging.
See, everyone else did what these golden shovels were set out to handle. They put one foot on the shovel, pushed softly into the ground, picked up an ounce or two of dirt, dropped it somewhere and moved on. Harbaugh struck the dirt like a prospector who took the 49ers name seriously.
Oh, watch out Jim! You’re gonna bend that shov…
“Ha! Guess I didn’t know my own strength!” (Check out the woman on the right.)
“Anyone want to take this shovel back … to the shovel store? Think I broke it. With my intensity.”
“Oh whatever, I’m a mighty man. I’ll fix the shovel myself with my amazing powers of bending!”