SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Football in the Bay Area is back and so are the fans. For the first time in 18 months, 49er Faithful were back at Levi’s Stadium to watch the team in action.
The last time fans saw the Niners play in Santa Clara was the NFC Championship game in January 2020 before the pandemic.
Due to COVID, attendance was scaled back to 600 fans. Normally it would be double that number. There was no interaction with the players. Fans said they are ready for the season to begin.
49er fans liked what they saw on the field for the first day of training camp at Levi’s Stadium.
"They looked pretty sharp, it’s good to see the players out there," said Jack Pastor of Daly City.
Fans were pumped. Tuesday marked the first time 49er Faithful saw the team in person, unable to attend practices and games all of last year due to COVID. Fans missed going to the stadium.
"The stadium has finally got its character, just the comradery right," said Fernando Alvarez of San Jose.
"Just the excitement of the crowd getting back into it and the anticipation of tailgating again with family and friends," said Pastor.
The team also missed the fans cheering them on.
"It was a really cool feeling coming in," said 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan. "It’s different not having fans out there. I know our guys were pumped. I heard them buzzing about it this morning."
"I’m so excited from when we have full stadiums again like I said before, that's what gets us going," said 49ers linebacker Fred Warner. "It was really strange to play without them last season."
"They looked good," said Brian Bianco of Morgan Hill. "It’s nice to see some of the new faces out there since there are a lot of new players that are on the team this year."
Among the new faces was new quarterback Trey Lance who officially signed with the team. He was the overall third pick in this year’s first round of the NFL draft. He will be a backup to starter Jimmy G.
"He’s going to try his best, Jimmy is going to try his best, the best man is going to win," said Aaron Mullen of Alameda.
"I"m a big Jimmy G fan," said Alvarez. "I’m super excited for him. I think he’s going to kill it this year."
Leoddis Elliott is a big George Kittle fan. He brought his two young sons. It was the boys’s first time seeing the players and they left with a football full of autographs. He said he has faith in the 49ers this year.
"Not only do we got a good backup quarterback but we have wide receivers that are just unstoppable," said Elliott.
Fans are hoping the Niners bring home the Lombardi trophy.
"If they stay healthy, there’s no reason they can’t win the Superbowl," said Bianco. "They have the talent."
All but one practice is sold out. It’s on Saturday August 7 when the team plays inside the stadium, where up to 20,000 fans can attend. Tickets are $10. Proceeds go to the Niners Foundation.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.