Niners fans young, old enjoy Monday spotlight

One hour before kickoff, Margo Winton stood on the dirt and gravel of the outer parking lot at Candlestick Park throwing a football with her mom, dad and cousin — a ritual she has participated in every football season of her life.

The 22-year-old lifelong 49ers fan was among the thousands of people at Candlestick Park for the home opener of the NFL season.

“We want a winning record,” said Winton, who wore a Jerry Rice jersey in honor of the Hall of Famer’s number being retired at halftime. “And pass protection for [quarterback Alex] Smith. I’m ready to root for the red and gold again.”

Before fans funneled into the stadium to watch the 49ers play the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in a “Monday Night Football” game, many gathered in a traditional tailgate party outside. The smell from grills cooking hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages filled the air.

Gary Gomez and son Gary Jr. barbecued ribs before the game with six friends they met doing the same thing through the years.

“It’s like a family out here,” the senior Gomez said. “When we go out to the park, this is the park we go to.”

Gomez said he has been a season-ticket holder for more than 50 years. While Gomez travels from Brentwood and said he’s the “ultimate fan,” it’s his son who knows all the players and can recite their statistics.

The younger Gomez said he had high hopes for this season, but only if the team puts in backup quarterback David Carr, like Smith a former No. 1 overall draft pick.

“Smith hasn’t shown progress,” Gary Jr. said of the starting quarterback, “at least not Super Bowl-quality.”

Just across a gravel row lined with yet more cars with raised red-and-gold flags, Reggie Tomlin sat on the bumper of a black Mercedes enjoying a hamburger before entering his first 49ers game.

The 38-year-old said he’s a lifelong fan, but never had the opportunity to attend a game. He traveled from Sacramento with his friend Javed Rashid, a season-ticket holder.

“He’d never been,” Rashid said of Tomlin. “I thought it would be a good time to go.”

Outside the stadium, the energy of longtime — and even new — 49ers fans was high. That enthusiasm continued inside, with “Let’s go, Niners!” chants and roars from the crowd when the home team scored its first points with 9 minutes, 59 seconds left in the second quarter, pulling the Niners within 9-7 of the Saints.

“We will win,” 32-year-old fan Fernando Martinez said. “And with the entire nation watching.”

Unfortunately for Martinez and 49ers fans, the team lost in dramatic fashion 25-22 on a last-second field goal.

49ersCandlestick ParkLocalNFLSan Francisco 49ers

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

San Francisco Police officers speak with people while responding to a call outside a market on Leavenworth Street in the Tenderloin on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SFPD makes the case for more officers, citing Walgreens video

Most of us have seen the video. It shows a man filling… Continue reading

A 14-Mission Muni bus heads down Mission Street near Yerba Buena Gardens. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Pandemic experiments morph into long-term solutions for SF transit agency

The streets of San Francisco became real-time laboratories for The City’s public… Continue reading

Unable to connect to GPS server ‘’
Debate reignites over San Francisco’s first public bank

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, momentum was building for San Francisco to… Continue reading

Apprenticeship instructor Mike Miller, center, demonstrates how to set up a theodolite, a hyper-sensitive angle measuring device, for apprentices Daniel Rivas, left, Ivan Aguilar, right, and Quetzalcoatl Orta, far right, at the Ironworkers Local Union 377 training center in Benicia on June 10, 2021. (Courtesy Anne Wernikoff/CalMatters)
California’s affordable housing crisis: Are labor union requirements in the way?

By Manuela Tobias CalMatters California lawmakers introduced several bills this year that… Continue reading

Mayor London Breed spoke at the reopening of the San Francisco Public Library main branch on April 20. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to The Examiner)
SF reopening more libraries through the summer

After a handful of San Francisco public libraries reopened last month for… Continue reading

Most Read