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(148) Days of 49ers: The Day My Heart Got Broken

Everything has a beginning and an end.  Whether it’s good or bad, happy or sad, everything comes to an end.  For the 2012 San Francisco 49ers and yours truly, it lasted 148 days.  From September 9th, an Opening Day victory against the Green Bay Packers, until February 2nd, a devastating loss in the Super Bowl to the Baltimore Ravens, It ended up being the most satisfying and heartbreaking 148 days in 18 years and realistically my life.

It dawned on me that Sundays loss was just a bad version of a Romantic Comedy.

The Premise:  A mid-20’s die-hard San Francisco 49ers fan, who has never loved anything but his parents and the 49ers, goes through the ups-and-downs of a season to see his team advance to the Super Bowl.

Everything was set-up perfectly for a beautiful Romantic Comedy.  The man in his mid-20’s played by none other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Ryan Gosling had scheduling conflicts), let’s for shits and giggles call him, Lance.  The Super Bowl Trophy, adorkably played by Zooey Deschanel, it was all too perfect.  They would end up together and be happy for the rest of the 2013 offseason as the Super Bowl Champions. The conflict you ask?  The Baltimore Ravens, the gay best friend that is trying to ruin everything!  And they did.

This is not a happy story, this is not a story about boy meets girl or boy’s team wins the Super Bowl and is euphoric.  This is the story of heartbreak.

The script was written, the movie was greenlit and was set to premiere just a few weeks before Valentine’s Day.  It was a film that men and women could all enjoy, a great date movie that had love, plot twists that would make M. Night Shyamalan jealous, and Football!  Probably the three greatest things in the World.

Unfortunately for the naive, in love 49ers fan, it was not a happy ending.

(1) It started off great, the 49ers went into Lambeau Field and defeated the Green Bay Packers on Opening Day.  A statement was made.  The shy protagonist stepped out of his comfort zone and met the girl/team of his dreams.  What a great start to the movie. I’m really rooting for this Lance guy!

(100) Our first plot twist!  Zooey breaks up with her loving, but ultimately not good enough High-School sweetheart, lets call him Alex Smith.  He gets an awful head injury and we think that they can pull through this, but they don’t.  Finally an opportunity for someone to swoop in.  A secondary character is introduced and ready to take the stage, his name Colin Kaepernick.  He plays well, but you expect him back in his secondary role.

[At this point, the Characters are all screwed up and I’ve lost my way, but stay with me I’m going somewhere with this…I think]

(106) We have yet to see our main character return.  JGL is a little scared, they have a big game on the national stage against currently the best defense in the NFL.  Kaepernick is not so scared, he dominates, he is no longer a secondary character, sorry Alex.  Zooey likes what she sees.

(148) You never know when something good/bad is going to end, unless it’s sports, there’s only 1 team that ends the season happy and two teams end the same day.  Today was the Super Bowl. One team will go down in history, the other team will just go down.

This was Colin’s chance to sweep Zooey off her feet and engrave his name into this trophy, kinda sexist if you ask me, but he’s the Protagonist!

It did not start off so well, the gay best friend is no longer gay and trying to remove the best friend title for something a little more intimate he’s trying to steal your Trophy Wife.  Down 22-6 he’s doing a damn good job.

Midway through the night, you feel like you’re losing her, you are about to throw in the towel.  Time to find the Alcohol – this always ends well.

Blackout.

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The lights in the stadium go dark.  This is perfect, all I want when someone is trying to steal something that I rightfully deserve is to sit in the dark while this it’s happening.  Already angry, surrounded by people yelling drunken nonsense at this party, and your girl is flirting with someone else, a guy named Joe Flacco.  He’s cool, he’s calm, he’s good looking – He better not be going to Disney World with her later.  JGL has been relegated to the sidekick in every Rom-Com – the fat, ugly friend who gives awful advice.  I’ve never felt more bi-polar than at this moment – I feel like I’m Bradley Cooper in The Silver Linings Playbook.  I hope the payoff is Jennifer Lawrence.

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But wait, it’s time for our huge romantic gesture!  Down 22 in the 3rd quarter, JGL busts out the boombox to play outside Zooey’s window.  She’s gonna love that shit, and you know what?  She does.  The 49ers are right back in it. Down 5, they get within 5 yards of kissing this big beautiful trophy that they have worked for more than 148 days for.

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I am full of emotions and you should be too, this is the climax! Our Protagonist is finally going to win the heart of his true love!

But this story is not a love story, it is not a happy ending, the 49ers fall five yards short of their goal, their dream, their love.  It’s like the The Break-Up, it was never gonna end happy.

The only problem with this failed Romantic Comedy that after the credits roll, the story keeps going. Commercials, Television, the “I’M GOING TO DISNEYWORLD!” even though I’d much rather spend my time at Disneyland because California > Florida and there’s generally more to do here, but I’m not the one who won the Super Bowl, so whatever Joe, do what you want! But I digress.

The silver lining to this heartbreak? The Sequel!

Just like JGL met Autumn at the end of 500 Days of Summer (Spoiler Alert!), the 49ers will have a chance to reclaim what they believe is rightfully theirs and that journey begins in seven months.

What I did learn with my first love and true sports heartbreak is that in the end it is better to have loved and lost (the Super Bowl) than to have never of loved a team at all.

– Lance Cartelli

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The 49ers are Super Bowl Bound – A Roller Coaster of Emotions

The glass is half full.  You can do anything you set your mind too.  Lindsay Lohan can beat this! David Akers can totally hit a 38 yard field goal.  Optimism – it’s a crazy thing and it was tested on Sunday in the Cartelli household, especially when the one thing that brings you happiness is down 17.  On the road.  In the NFC Championship game.

Spoiler Alert:  There will be screaming.  There will be yelling.  There will be dancing.  And there will be joyous and angry tweets!

Without further ado:

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Coming off a week where your team just dominated last years MVP and your newly crowned QB in his first playoff start breaks records, you have to feel a little bit of confidence going into the NFC Championship game.  It also didn’t help that ESPN and NFL Network were all picking your team to win and it shouldn’t be close.  They were even favored by four on the road according to Vegas.  The Georgia Dome was going to be rocking, the Falcons were going to feel disrespected, and they were going to come out swinging.  And that is exactly what happened.

Before I could blink Quintorris Lopez Jones, better known as Julio Jones was dominating.  He was a man amongst boys towering over everyone that even tried to cover him.  It was like if I was in a room with Danny DeVito.  After the first drive the 49ers were down seven.  Not to worry, we have Colin Freakin’ Kaepernick.

My optimism is still at a very high point.

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Well, Colin Freakin’ Kaepernick and the 49ers have a three-and-out.  Not good.  Can the defense get a stop?  No, No they can’t.  A field goal – they are now down 10.  That’s okay, we’re gonna get points right here right? Wrong.  Three-and-out. This feels like the 49ers vs. Seahawks all over again.

The Falcons smell the blood in the water, are the 49ers the innocent surfers deep in the ocean about to get chomped on?  Cue the Jaws Music as Julio Jones makes a ridiculous catch over Tarell Brown and the Falcons are up 17-0.  We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Oh, by the way.  This was all in the first quarter.  Optimism fleeting.

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No, no it wasn’t.

At this point in the Cartelli household, my face is in my palm, my Dad is walking around yelling and not being able to watch and my Mom is playing Spider Solitaire upstairs.  I did not watch 19 weeks of 49er football to be disappointed once again in the NFC Championship game.  Time to will my team to victory.

Optimism at an all-time low –  the 49ers respond with a long touchdown drive capped off my rookie LaMichael James touchdown.  17-7.  Screaming and yelling commence.  I remember saying louder and more confidently, “We’re still in this”.  A stop.  Another touchdown drive lead by Kaepernick and Frank Gore.  17-14.  

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After being punched in the gut and knocked down, we bounce back, By “we”, I mean my Dad and I.  We’re back in this.  Every play matters, we’re screaming, high-fiving, wondering why Troy Aikman sounds like a lesbian, but I digress.  Did the 49ers leave too much time on the clock for Matt Ryan?  They sure did.  After having all the momentum, the 49ers allow a touchdown to put the Falcons up 24-14.  I hate you, Matt Ryan.

It’s halftime.  Usually  my chance to shower, relieve myself in the restroom, eat, cry (when losing), and yell at the television some more.  Not Sunday, I had no appetite, bodily functions weren’t working, I didn’t move, paralyzed by an awful half.  Will this be the last half in the 2012-13 season for the 49ers?

The 49ers start with the ball and for the third straight drive they score a touchdown.  Down 24-21, both teams look unstoppable like underrated Denzel Washington & Chris Pine movie of the same name.  Shootouts are fun unless your team is apart of it then you just want to rip your hair out.

The 49ers needed a stop, a turnover, a something! I was being modest when I asked the #1 defense in the league for a stop and then the greatest thing you can do on Twitter happened.

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Yes, I retweeted myself.  Don’t overuse such a power, it comes with great responsibility.

The 49ers are in great position to tie or take the lead from the Falcons after the interception by Chris Culliver they get into field goal range and it’s up to David Akers.  Akers in 2011 set the record for most field goals made in a season and started off the season with a record-tying 63 yard field goal in Green Bay.  Now, that I’ve said all the good about David.

Here’s the bad:

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Hate is a strong word.  It was said in a time of great passion, but Akers may be on my short list of actual things I hate**. Notice I said things – I know he’s a good person, he did great things last year and has had a great career.  But he is awful, just the worst.  The Super Bowl is going to come down to a field goal and knowing that Akers is on the sideline scares the bejesus out of me.

**Other Things on Short Hate List: Girls that wear bright red lipstick, Adults with baby teeth and huge gums, Facebook (Especially people that like stupid pictures that say “Like this or you want your elderly Grandmother to die a painful death”), Bandwagon fans, and the Kardashians.

After the miss, this game entered into the pantheon of games that will shorter my lifespan by 5-10 years.  Can Matt Ryan score again and put this game on ice?  Not just yet.  He takes his eye off the ball, fumbles, and Aldon Smith recovers it.  New life!  Optimism still alive.  Screaming, yelling, and more high-fives.  This euphoria does not last.  Crabtree runs a slant route, catches it, gets to the half yard line and fumbles.

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 12.35.37 PMIt’s like I just watched Click again.  I can feel the tears building up.  The 49ers cannot lose because another fumble in the NFC Championship game.  For the love of Kyle Williams it cannot happen!

The 49ers get a stop thanks to a timely tackle by Carlos Rogers and they are back in business.  This time no messin around – Gore runs it in for a Touchdown and the 49ers have their first lead of the game, 28-24.

I’m on the edge of my seat now and have really poor posture, but all the back pain will be worth it if the 49ers can hold on.  There’s plenty of time for Matty Ice to comeback and win this game, it’s what he does.

It comes down to a 4th down and 4.  All-Pro LB Navorro Bowman on Roddy White – a mismatch.  There’s some jostling for position, but Bowman knocks it away!

The 49ers win!  I’m jumping up and down, screaming, yelling, fist-pumping like I’m Tiger Woods and I just won the Masters.  My dad doing the same thing.  Mother dearest, dancing away.  Then a sigh of relief, the biggest comeback in NFC Championship history and a trip to New Orleans for the Super Bowl.  It’s been 18 years.

18 years.  18 years since I was watching the 49ers demolish the San Diego Chargers in the Super Bowl.  18 years since Steve Young to Jerry Rice in that 49-26 victory.  If the 49ers Super Bowl drought was a kid, he could buy cigarettes, fight in a war, and get blacked out drunk in the dorms of his college because you know he would be in a University not a Community College!

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Super Bowl Bound.

– Lance Cartelli

The 49ers Make a Statement + Week 16 Picks

For two and half quarters on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers looked like the best team in the NFL.  For one quarter they looked like every other defense that Tom Brady has carved up in his illustrious career.  And for the final half of the 4th quarter the 49ers did just enough to hang on to defeat the New England Patriots 41-34 in an epic battle to clinch back-to-back playoff appearances for the once storied franchise.

The New England Patriots were arguably the hottest team in the NFL, winning seven straight games, lost for the first time at home in 21 games, and had also won 21 straight in the second half of the season at home.  Snapping all of these ridiculous streaks with a second year quarterback that has started only five games in his career, the 49ers made a statement that the NFC goes through San Francisco.

What we saw on Sunday — in the most entertaining football game of the year — is that neither of these teams will go quietly into the night.  The 49ers came out swinging – the defense was dominant, the offense was explosive, and the 49ers were up 31-3.  The Patriots could’ve packed it in and said good game, but they came storming back with 28 straight points in about a quarter.  Resiliency like this is a sign of a great team.  After tying it up at 31, the 49ers got a great kick return from rookie LaMichael James and on the next play scored a 38 yard touchdown from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree, a blooming connection in recent weeks.  Both these teams showed that no matter what kind of adversity they will face in the coming weeks and in the playoffs, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.  This was a Super Bowl Preview.

But it won’t be easy for either team.  New England is now the #3 seed in the AFC and will probably have to face the Denver Broncos in the second round and potentially the Houston Texans in the AFC Championship.  New England will have to win both games on the road if everything holds form.  The 49ers are currently the second seed in the NFC but the Green Bay Packers are breathing down their neck just 1/2 game behind them thanks to the 49ers tie with the St. Louis Rams.  The 49ers also have to travel to Seattle to play a hot Seahawks team in the toughest place to play in the NFL.  A showdown with the Packers in the second round of the playoffs is looming ahead and depending how the season plays out it could very well be in Lambeau Field.

Either way the playoffs that being in a few weeks have some incredible match-ups potentially in the 2nd round and beyond.

Week 16 Picks:

Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit Lions – The Lions were just beatdown by the awful Arizona Cardinals and this week they have to take on the team with the best record in the NFC, after coming off a 34-0 shutout of the defending champs.  It’s pretty simple.

New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys – We are entering “Tony Romo Destroys His Team in Heartbreaking and Dramatic Fashion” Time, but it is one week too soon.  Cowboys pull out a victory at home against the Saints.

Tennessee Titans @ Green Bay Packers–  The Titans needed Mark Sanchez to be Mark Sanchez just to escape with a victory over the Jets.  I don’t think they will be so lucky against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs – Andrew Luck vs. Brady Quinn.  That’s all that needs to be said.

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins –

San Diego Chargers @ New York Jets – I think the whole world — now that we are still alive — is thankful that this game was flexed out of primetime.  I don’t think Chargers and Jets fans can take another primetime embarrassment.

Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles – The Redskins are fighting to keep control of the NFC East and are eyeing a showdown next week with the Cowboys.  This is a classic trap game, but the Eagles mailed it in weeks ago.  RGIII and company handle their business.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers – The Bengals and the “Red Rifle” go into Pittsburgh and defeat the Steelers making all Gingers proud.  It really is the end of the world.

St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tampa Bay got destroyed last week verse the Saints, but their stout run defense makes Sam Bradford beat them and he can’t.  Bucs win and stay alive.

Oakland Raiders @ Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton has been dominating the past few weeks and is single handedly saving people’s fantasy football teams, but he can’t save his own team.  Thankfully — for him — he’s playing the Raiders.

New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars – I think the Pats are a little angry about last week, Jacksonville I’m sorry.

Minnesotta Vikings @ Houston Texans – The Texans will overload the box to stop the run and dare Christian Ponder to beat them, I like those odds for the Texans.  AP will still go off for a big day.

Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos – The Broncos got a gift last week as the 49ers beat the Patriots and ascended the Broncos into the #2 seed with their sites set on a 1st round bye.  The Browns won’t be able to stop Peyton Manning.

Chicago Bears @ Arizona Cardinals – Let’s see…Arizona Cardinals have the worst QB position in the NFL (Sorry Jets) and they are facing a defense that is based on turnovers.  Bears end their losing streak and remain in the playoff picture.

New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens – The Giants have been playing awful, they can’t rush the passer and Eli Manning isn’t helping either.  This seems about the time the Giants win every single game for the rest of the season. Ugh.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks – The 49ers must go into the toughest place to play in the NFL, Seattle, and defeat a team that has scored 50+ points in back-to-back weeks after their defense was on the field for 95 (!) plays last week.  Oh yeah, it doesn’t look like Justin Smith will play either. The Seahawks might be without their top two corners and need to win to stay alive in the NFC West.  This will be a blood bath but I have to go with the team that just beat the Patriots on the road.

– Lance Cartelli

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