Niners fans bring back traditions at opener

If you’re wondering why the 49ers lost Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals, here’s a clue: Niner fan Ed Castellanos decided to go to a sports bar with his buddies instead of staying home and turning on his neon 49ers sign, tuning the radio to a certain good-luck station and refusing to change the channel under any circumstances.

The football season has once again started, and once again who-knows-how-many rituals are being performed by 49ers fans in homes and bars across the Bay Area and beyond in an attempt to ward off another agonizing losing season for The City’s favorite football team.

Ricky Saenz, who sat with friends at the 4th Street Bar and Deli looking for signs of a fourth-quarter comeback, did his part.

“I don’t shower on game day,” he said matter-of-factly, his gaze not budging from one of the dozen-plus screens in the bar.

“Oh, well, THAT explains it,” exclaimed his girlfriend, rolling her eyes.

It’s a tradition that goes back to his own days on a high school football team.

“It’s a stinky ritual. It’s a dirty game, so mentally, we wanted to go out there and be dirty and play hard and rough,” he said.

But despite the fact that greasy hair didn’t appear to help the 49ers this time around, Saenz remained hopeful about the season.

“I’m excited this year. I think we’re gonna move forward. I think we have a shot at the playoffs. We’re taking baby steps back to our dynasty days,” he said.

Die-hard fan Imogene Hendricks was similarly positive — and similarly superstitious. If the Niners win while she wears a certain jersey, she’ll wear it every single game thereafter.

“And there’s been times when I felt like I jinxed it because I washed my shirt,” she said.

Bobby Blackney, a recent transplant from Los Angeles who is testing the waters of 49er fandom, sat and watched the game at the Union Square Sports Bar.

His buddy, longtime fan Jon Stenrose, sneered, “Cowgirls!” at some nearby fans who were vociferously cheering for San Francisco’s longtime rival, the Dallas Cowboys, who were playing in a game against Cleveland.

Blackney admitted to his own rituals when it comes to sports, like drinking one kind of beer the whole season — and drinking a lot of it.

“Because the more you drink, the better your team does,” he said, taking another swig.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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