After my eyeballs finally healed from watching what the 49ers were doing in the first few weeks of the season, Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals sent me right back to the ophthalmologist to complain. But it wasn't what was on the field that hurt this time.
It wasn't that the 49ers missed chance after chance and let the Cardinals hang around for far too long. And it was not that Colin Kaepernick threw an end zone interception (granted, it was tipped first) and lost a fumble. It wasn't even that the normally-stout defense looked pedestrian on certain drives. It was when Cardinals defensive lineman and sworn 49er enemy Calais Campbell went down with an injury that required a stretcher and a cart—and 49ers fans started doing The Wave in celebration. Look folks, it shouldn't take the players begging you from the field to remember to act like grown adults in the stands.
There wasn’t much to complain about as far as the playing goes. Vernon Davis had a career game, racking up 180 yards and two touchdowns. Frank Gore continued to bull rush the defense and chew up time on the clock. And Kaepernick led the 49ers on an NFL season-high 18-play scoring drive to seal the game in the second half.
Yet, at the end of the day, all I could remember was the thousands of 49ers fans partaking in a ballpark tradition that should have died a long time ago as it is—and doing so to cheer a player getting seriously injured. As if the public’s perception of 49ers fans weren't bad enough, with the violence at Candlestick Park, we have this now.
Look, I get it. Chances are that the fans simply got bored during the long delay and a few Grinches left their hearts at home and struck up the chorus of arms. Props to the fans who stayed on their butts in silence, or stood and watched, hoping that Campbell would show signs of movement. And huge props to players like Gore, who noticed the monstrous demonstration taking place in his stadium and signaled for the crowd to sit down while a fellow athlete was receiving urgent care on the field. But still, not a pretty sight.
Normally, this space is reserved for pessimism towards the way the 49ers played, win or lose. Today, that dark light shines on the fans. Hopefully it’s a lesson learned. Next time this happens, just ask yourself: WWASD? (What would Alex Smith do?)
Yeah, that Alex Smith. The one who is now 6-0 in Kansas City.