The End Zone: Is The 49ers New Stadium Cursed?
Don’t you just hate it when you spend over eight years and nearly $1.2 billion dollars to conceive and build the perfect new stadium, just to find out that oops, sorry, it is cursed as hell? Samesies, me too – but looks like that’s what the San Francisco 49ers are up against right now.
In just three appearances at their brand new state-of-the-art Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, two preseason and one abysmal regular season loss this past Sunday, the Niners have had an interesting, accident- and loss-riddled showing — especially after their strong 12-4 season in 2013, back when they played home games out of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. It all started August 17th, in what should have been a routine pre-season game against Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos. The Broncos, still reeling from their abysmal 43-8 loss at last season’s Super Bowl, should have posed no real threat to the 49ers, who made it all the way to the NFC Division Champions last season and boast arguably one of the strongest defensive lines in the league. Instead, after an error-laden start and an inability to hold the Broncos back, the 49ers were left scoreless, being routed 34-0. Star 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw only 5 for 9 for 39 yards, and kicker Phil Dawson, normally on point, missed two easy field goals, kicking both wide right. The offensive line also threw two interceptions and a fumble, and handed the Broncos defensive line the gift wrapped W with a bow on top — not a great showing for the 49ers first game in their new stadium, with tens of thousands of fans filling out the new stadium to full capacity.
Just a week later, during a 49ers practice at the new stadium, players started hitting the ground — literally. The turf installed in the stadium had begun tearing up, causing players to trip and fall during plays. A makeshift field was installed days before their August 21st preseason game to the San Diego Chargers, though the San Francisco Gate described the stop-gap measure as “less than spectacular.” The Niners would go on to beat the Chargers — but not without a healthy dose of cursed drama all the same. A 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Bay Area the night before the August 24th game, leaving public transportation options in disrepair, and many fans with no way to get to the stadium. Though the 49ers were able to pull off the win, they did so to a severely diminished fan base – over 10,000 seats went empty at the game.
And now with this past Sunday’s late-game loss to the Chicago Bears, during the 49ers first regular season home game in their shiny new stadium, there’s definitely reason to believe that the Levi’s Stadium is haunted. The Niners had looked good the week prior in their season opener against the Cowboys, played down in Dallas, winning 28-17, and looked set to do the same once back on home (and newly laid) turf. The 49ers took an early lead in the 1st, scoring a touchdown and a field goal, while the Bears went scoreless. By the 3rd, the 49ers were up 20-7, and victory looked imminent, even despite Kaepernick throwing interceptions, and the 49ers racking up penalties. But Jay Cutler and his Bears rallied in the 4th, and the San Francisco defense didn’t show up to stop them — instead letting the Bears score three touchdowns in the 4th quarter to lock up the game 28-20. Kaepernick threw three interceptions in the game and fumbled the ball, and the team as a whole racked up 16 of the game’s 26 penalties. Ironically, Kaepernick had gotten his start in a 2012 game against the Bears, when SF’s starting quarterback Alex Smith was injured — and had held onto the starting QB position ever since.
The red and gold will get to take a break for a week from their haunted digs, travelling to Arizona to take on the Cardinals in Week 3, but return home in Week 4 and will face an undoubtedly tough matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. But will they able to break the curse that’s led to an entirely injured defensive line, a shaky offensive line, and ground that’s been broken three times in the last year? It’s not quite Halloween yet, but things are looking pretty spooky for the 49ers.
[Photo: Getty Images]
The End Zone, The Frisky’s new weekly football column by Beejoli Shah, is sponsored by Smirnoff Ice. Smirnoff Ice is not a sponsor of the NFL.