49ers Win with Class on Super Bowl Run

Bill Walsh defined winning with class. He was humble in victory and civil in defeat. He never ran up the score on an opponent, except when making a necessary point. Ronnie Lott never beat his chest, Jerry Rice didn’t dance in the end zone and the most animated Joe Montana ever got was lifting his arms in the air to signal a touchdown—though he once, uncharacteristically but completely spontaneously, threw in a fist pump.

Walsh would laud the opponent after a victory, regardless of the score. He was introspective after a loss, congratulating the other team and opining on how the San Francisco 49ers needed to improve.

A lot has changed since those simpler times. The current 49ers, whose legacy is still to be defined, are on the threshold of becoming Super Bowl champions. If they execute they should win the game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The best team usually wins.

From an organizational standpoint, Jed York has set the tone to return class to the storied franchise. He has focused on continuing the long, distinguished legacy of the 49ers, which includes honoring his uncle, Eddie DeBartolo; the 49ers hall of fame and, especially, the new stadium. He has brought the true standard of success back to the team. As a 33-year season ticket holder, that standard had never been simply making the playoffs.

It is and always has been a Super Bowl victory. Anything less is a failed season. That is the harsh reality. Nothing less than a Super Bowl victory is required for a true 49er faithful.

Recognizing that one must go through tough times and lean years is disappointing. But the journey is worth the effort. A Super Bowl victory, like winning the World Series, erases a whole lot of bad years.
What should never change is the class of an organization, win or lose. Class manifests itself in different ways. Nobody would have ever heard Joe Montana or Jerry Rice proclaim they were the greatest ever. They never had to—their championships speak for them. Those who know the game speak for them. Ask John Madden who are the greatest quarterback and receiver in the history of the game—he knows.

Note to Randy Moss: I met Jerry Rice. I watched him play. Great as you are, Mr. Moss, you are no Jerry Rice.

But if Randy wins a championship he will be part of the best ever, for that year. Nobody will argue the point.

As for the new 49er fans, learn the game. Quiet on offense, loud on defense. Violence in the stands is idiotic. Opposing fans should be welcomed, their team beaten on the field and their trip to city of San Francisco or Santa Clara a highlight of their travels.

Finally, this team does remind me of the 1980 team: young, talented, a great coach and a young owner. The 49ers’ legacy will be defined by the totality of their character. Win on Sunday and they have taken the first step, but never forget that humility and civility are values they can pass on to the next generation of great players, as the great Niners of years past have done for them.

Then and only then will they deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice and the other great Niners who lived up to the standard insisted upon by the greatest coach ever, Bill Walsh.

And by the way, humble in victory, civil in defeat should also be the standard for local politics.

Rich Robinson is a political consultant in Silicon Valley.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.


  1. I too admire the 49ers and the NFL in general because it’s a joy to watch people who understand their goal and are uncompromising in doing everything it takes to achieve that goal.
    If only you progressives would take the same principles that work so well in building a successful football organization and apply them to running the government. If only the Commander in Chief of our armed forces understood as much about building a winning team as the 49ers president does. You don’t see Jed York instructing Trent Baalke to make sure women are given a chance to play on the 49ers do you? And why not? The answer is so obvious it doesn’t need to be stated. But when it comes to women in the military, our judgment becomes clouded by political correctness. Hell, in the pursuit of “fairness” and “equality” Obama’d probably appoint Sonia Sotomayor to play middle linebacker.
    Rich Robinson and many other liberals don’t appear to be ignorant as to what it takes to build a winning team so one has to wonder about their priorities… Go ahead and play politics with the armed forces. Screw up national defense all you want to advance the progressive agenda but keep your cotton pickin’ hands off our precious entertainment.

  2. Currently I’m in the south where “cotton pickin’” hands toiled for many years without wages—it is a phrase that should be on the trash heap of history, for it is insulting.

    As for women in the Military, they have proven their worth.  I don’t need defend them, for they do it far better than I.

    Go Niners!

  3. OK Rich. We don’t agree on politics. We don’t agree on what phrases people should be prohibited from speaking. Lets try sports.
    I know this website is supposed to be relevant to San Jose but maybe Josh curb his censoring tendencies for a moment and allow this post to come through.
    The Superbowl just finished and I have not heard or been influenced one bit by any ‘expert’ analysis. And I’m supremely aggravated. I could not believe it when the 49ers went into a pass offense when they were first and goal inside the ten. I think Harbaugh cost them the game with this strategy. They’d been moving relentlessly down the field keeping the Ravens off balance with a mix of running and pass plays AND it was important that they burn some more time off the clock before they scored a touchdown. You don’t burn time by running pass plays. Harbaugh’s been a fantastic coach and turned the 49ers around bigtime but I’m afraid he blew it there at the end of that game.
    What say you Rich?

    • I was reminded of the 2009 Big Game.  Toby Gerhart got Stanford into the Red Zone, and Harbaugh never went back to him.  Cal got an interception and the win.  Harbaugh never went back to Gore either.

      On the other hand when John Harbaugh didn’t call a timeout before the 2 minute warning.  That told me he was expecting a stop.  I don’t think either side was taking the touchdown as a gimme.  After the stop, the 49ers did get the ball back.  Had it not been for the 2 wasted timeouts (the last one on 3rd down), they would have gotten the ball back with at least a minute on the clock.

    • Just back from NOLA.  Disappointing game.  Anytime you lose a game this close there are a myriad of opportunities missed, reasons for loss etc.  The officials were horrible, they missed a lot of calls.  The play calling around the end zone could have been better.  Time management remains a problem for the team.  Calling timeouts in the 3rd quarter when you are behind makes me nuts. 

      Allowing a kick-off return for a TD is inexcusable.  Braakdowns in coverage. 

      On the other hand, there were some plays on offense when the Ravens were brilliant.  They made it happen.  Their defense is one of the best in the red zone, hence the reason the Coaching staff went with the pass instead of the run.  Though neither were high percentage plays. 

      Montana would have made it happen, but he is not playing.  A pass to the back of the end zone with a leaping Moss would have reminded us of “the Catch”.  A bullet over the middle to Davis would have worked as the safeties were split to contain the outside.  But alas it was not to be.

      As for officiating, if you call us for PI on a 3rd and long that allows Baltimore a field goal, you have to call the hold on Crabtree.  But the flags stayed in the pocket.  The two point conversion attempt was pathetic.

      Any number of plays could have made a huge difference when you lose that close.

      That said, it should never have been close.  The mistakes in the first half were incredible.  You fail to touch a receiver when he is down—after you blow the coverage?  Really. 

      The Niners played too tight.  It was clear throughout the week that the Ravens were relaxed and loose and the 9ers uptight.  That is always is a problem.

      At the end of the day, the 49ers were a better team and lost.  That was clear even to the hyber elated Ravins fans.  But they have the ring and the 49ers can turn this loss into a rallying cry or simply cry that they lost.  I hope it is the former.

      In the meantime.  Congratulations to the Ravens.  They won and they are the Champions of the World. . .this year.

      • Their strategy of coming back from behind failed this time, but the deficit was larger than in the playoff games.  The 1st quarter/half deficit has been growing with each game – first Green Bay, then the Falcons, and finally the Ravens.  They need to figure out what they’re doing wrong at the start of the game which allows the other team to be so successful. 

        I said before the game started that mistakes – or the lack thereof – would be the deciding factors in the game.  Interceptions, turn overs, kickoff return for a touchdown etc. Mistakes which happen in a split second can lead to big points on the board for the team which is the beneficiary of the mistakes.  The Ravens were able to score on mistakes made by the 49ers.  The 49ers need to figure out how to make fewer mistakes going forward.

        At least the game was exciting right up until the last second.

  4. BTW, a recent Merc editorial seemed to be encouraging municipalities like San Jose to help San Francisco with their Super Bowl bid.

    If the folks on the Council decide spend taxpayer’s money on a Super Bowl bid, they should call their “tax” on youth sports, the “Super Bowl” tax.  Because that’s what it would amount to.

    • Good idea.  The entire area would benefit from a Superbowl.  We stayed in Gulfport, Mississippi.  We spent money in LaFayette, Baton Rouge, Gulfport, Biloxi and, of course, New Orleans.

      All the hotels for 60 miles around were booked.  We could not get a dinner reservation in New Orleans friday or saturday, on Friday we walked in to a charming joint that many locals were eating—always look to where the Saints fans eat.  On Saturday, we ate in Biloxi overlooking the Gulf.

      BTW:  Our hotel in Gulfport was full of Raven fans.  Remember this is 80 miles away from New Orleans.

      San Jose will benefit greatly from a Superbowl in Santa Clara, as will San Francisco, the Peninsula—and the East Bay.  Everyone comes out a winner.

      Santa Clara should seek advice from the New Orleans host committee.  They did it right.  They had 1,500 extra police officers on the street.  There was no stench on Bourbon St. from vomit and urine.  Though there was a heady smell of Lysol once in a while—

      • What’s your point?  You’re rich?

        I’m sure they’ll try to sell it to LA too.  It’ll be great for California and the entire West Coast.  People in LA are smarter than that though.  That’s why they don’t have professional football in LA.  It costs too much.

      • Santa Clara is a city of 117,000 people.
        Santa Clara doesn’t even have 160 officers for a regular NFL game, much less the Super Bowl.  No way should Santa Clara be on the hook to hire all of the extra police officers a Super Bowl would require.  If the region wants this – the region should come up with the money to pay for it and not expect the taxpayers of tiny SC to foot the bill.

  5. New Orleans estimated that it brought in $430 million in economic activity to the city.  That doesn’t count Baton Rouge, Gulfport, Biloxi or the surrounding cities.

    Critics, however, claim the Superbowl only brought in 1/3 that amount, around $120 million.  When your critics are arguing that an event only brought in $120 million to the local economy—one can extropolate that the absence of the event would have cost the city $120 million—and it doesn’t include economic activity in the region.

    There is a reason cities want the Superbowl.  Everybody wins.  Hotels were sold out at premium prices, you could not get a reservation in the French Quarter on Friday and Saturday,  taxis were full and mostly unavailable, Limo companies were sold out (I know one person who got their Limo from Texas—it cost less than an unavailable Limo in NOLA),  Superbow patrons are big tippers for the service industry. 

    New Orleans is already bidding for their next Superbowl.  The intangible benefits, the free worldwide promotion of the city and the number of nonlocal dollars that come into a community are enormous.  BTW:  Superbowl patrons buy almost anything.  Make a pet rock with a team logo—you can make your fortune in a week.

    Only the most myopic NIMBY, naysayer would oppose a Superbowl in their own community.  When the glass half full is $120 million +, it is time to stop arguing and get those Superbowl bids out.

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