SAN FRANCISCO - With the 49ers headed to the Super Bowl, it’s not hard to find fans who have jumped on the bandwagon. It’s a little more difficult to find someone who has stuck with the team for 70 years.
Since their first season in 1946, the team has called three stadiums home. It’s hard to find a fan who is equally passionate and knowledgeable about their years at Kezar Stadium, Candlestick Park and Levi’s Stadium.
Martin Jacobs is that rare person. He’s a San Francisco native who was taken to his first game as a nine-year-old by his dad in 1952. One player caught Jacobs eye.
“I didn’t know a forward pass from a lateral. [My dad] gave me his binoculars. He says, ‘Marty, I want you to take a look at this running back. His name is Hugh McElhaney.’ Well, from the moment I looked through the binoculars and I saw McElhaney do a sweep— his first carry, he ran 40 yards for a touchdown. His straight arm, his hip movement, his high stepping, his shifting. I said it was amazing. Tacklers were missing him left and right.”
From that day on, Jacobs was hooked. The 49ers became the motivation for the direction Jacobs would immediately take with his life.
He says he got a job at Kezar Stadium, where he became a vendor for 15 years. He also had an uncle at Kezar who would look the other way as his nephew headed to the field in the game’s final minutes.
“I got to talk to players; I picked up jerseys, bloody towels, water bottles, whiskey flasks, mouthpieces, medical things left behind at halftime. I started collecting.”
Jacobs witnessed the last glory days at Kezar: the 49ers first NFC West Championship, and the first of their three straight losses to the Dallas Cowboys that ended San Francisco’s Super Bowl hosts. He was even one of the long-suffering fans at Candlestick Park who felt a lifetime of vindication when Dwight Clark made ‘The Catch’.
“I seldom ask god for a favor, I said, ‘God, I never ask you a favor, but could you this time just let us score and beat Dallas?’ And when he did the catch, god came through. We did it. We did it.”
In the ‘80s, Jacobs continued to follow his 49er passion. He opened retail stores, selling and then manufacturing 49er artifacts. He says he had lines wrapped around the block at his store in Serramonte with people waiting to purchase caps, jerseys and T-shirts. He kept quite busy printing them on his own.
He eventually closed his stores, but in the meantime, he’s written books about the 49ers and is very much still in the buying and selling business.
His analysis of Super Bowl 54 is pretty simple: “I expect us to win and I expect it to be a close game.”
As for where he’ll be on Super Bowl Sunday, you guessed it, right on the sofa in front of the TV.
Jacobs has lived the line of making your passion your job and never feeling like you’re actually working. From the time he was nine to the present day, his beloved 49ers have been part of his life. He’s hoping for a fresh new chapter to be written on Super Bowl Sunday.