Think of Lloyd Gleaves as the 49ers’ good luck charm.
The Ceres resident and Modesto business owner has been on the road for each of the last two Sundays – making a stop in Green Bay first and then Charlotte – to watch his beloved Red and Gold make an improbable if not remarkable run toward a second Super Bowl appearance.
He’ll be in Seattle this week to see what many NFL insiders had predicted would be the NFC Championship game even before the first ball of the season was snapped – the rubber match in the series between division opponents that have become fierce competitors and bitter rivals.
And you better believe that Gleaves will be wearing his team gear.
“Is there another team?” he asked emphatically about where his allegiances have always lied. “There were some lean years there, but it’s been a memorable run as of late and this is going to be a memorable weekend for sure.”
Gleaves missed the road game to New Orleans. He didn’t make the trip to London, go to Seattle earlier this season, fly to New Orleans or find the time to watch Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts come into Candlestick Park and lay down a discouraging beating. But he’s been to all the rest, and for the most part, he says, the fans have made it an enjoyable journey.
“Hopefully I’m that little piece of the puzzle that they need this week in Seattle – that good luck charm,” he said with a laugh. “Every NFL stadium has been different, but by-and-large the fans have been so great and so accepting – in Green Bay especially.
“Sometimes 49ers fans don’t exhibit that same level of sportsmanship when other teams come to town, but I haven’t seen any of that thugishness and that’s a really good thing – to know that people are going to accept you even if you’re rooting for the opposition.”
San Francisco will have their hands full on Sunday.
On one hand they’re going to be going up against one of the best defenses in the National Football League, in a stadium that was built to amplify crowd sound and make it almost impossible for opposing offenses to hear snap counts or on-the-line adjustments.
Jeff Tilton said he became a Seattle Seahawks season ticket holder when he moved up to Portland in 2004 just to add something to his social calendar – not realizing that Seattle was nearly four hours from his doorstep. When he came back to Manteca in 2012 he opted not to give up his rights, and has been traveling back-and-forth for home games with regularity ever since.
Tilton and his wife Shalice were in the crowd over the weekend when the Seahawks beat the Drew Brees-led Saints to earn the chance to host the NFC Championship game. Everything that people have said about that stadium, he said, is true – the “12th Man” concept is more than just a clever marketing plot.
“You really can’t hear the person next to you when Seattle is on defense, and when they draw a delay of game or an offsides penalties, that gets the crowd even more fired up,” Tilton said. “The electricity is amazing. It’s a fun way to watch a game, and I was hooked immediately.
“There’s a different culture in that stadium – people behave differently than they do at other games. I’m glad that I’ve got the chance to be a part of it this weekend.”