Are you a true San Francisco 49ers fan?

“Go root for another team.”


“False fan.”

And my favorite, “You don’t know football!”

At some point, if you’re a fan with an unpopular opinion, you’ve heard these things or something very similar. And it makes your blood boil. Usually a long back and forth will follow once the insult has been thrown.

Have no fear 49ers fans because I’m here to make sure that whatever level of intensity you bring to the table you are a “real fan”. I will also give you tools to disarm those who attack you the wrong way. Let’s start with the fandom levels.

Occasional fans: They support a specific team when they play, but they don’t watch every game. If their team is in the playoffs, they will make sure they don’t miss those games and wear team clothing to show their support. When their team loses, they are slightly disappointed but life picks up very quickly.

Fans invested: They are a little more serious. They watch all the games and they have a favorite jersey. They know the inner workings of the organization and can list the stats of their favorite players. While these fans tend to be disappointed after every loss, no matter what is going on around the squad, this fan remains upbeat. They also tend to trust the organization completely to do their job. Invested fans are the first to call out the next fan I’m about to mention.

Die hard fan: This fan also watches every game, but his level of intensity is always tilting. This fan clings to the edge of his seat in every room and has an opinion on everything he sees. This fan is also the fan who will buy subscriptions, souvenirs and have a cave dedicated to his team. As my friend Jon and I like to say, “Die-hard fans can name the five starting offensive linemen without hesitation. While this fan loves his team, he’s very critical when things aren’t going well. This is where arguments with invested fans can boil over.

For the record: Trent Williams, Laken Tomlinson, Alex Mack, Aaron Banks and Mike McGlinchey.

Now that we’ve established the levels of being a fan, let’s talk about the rules of being a fan. Get out your pen and paper because this list is long.

1) Rooting for the product on the field on match day.

That’s all, just one rule to be a fan. None of the other things matter. You can buy jerseys, you can buy souvenirs, damn it, you can explode blood vessels in your head yelling at the refs while you watch TV. You can be critical in the offseason or be optimistic. You can even watch a movie until your vision blurs. Your only requirement as a fan is to research the product on the field on match day.

When you bring fans together, especially on social media, things can get tense. If fans research their team’s forums, they usually have a strong opinion in one way or another. If the conversation is conducted productively, you can learn something. If this is done unproductively, it can ruin your day. My advice when looking for your next conversation, remember the only rule of being a fan. Express this rule verbally to end heated debate and walk away. This will make your social media engagement a much more enjoyable experience.

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