WHY – This may be remembered as Black Monday for the 49ers, the day the team’s most important leaders — its heart and soul — left the building, while the bad news kept pouring in.
It started with the revelation that beloved running back Frank Gore was planning to leave the team as a free agent. That was quickly followed by a report that defensive end Justin Smith is planning to retire, although Smith has indicated a final decision will wait until next week. That’s not surprising, considering “Cowboy” will be 36 years old next season.
And, by the end of the day, another stunning report: Fullback Bruce Miller was arrested for domestic spousal abuse last week, the latest in a parade of 49ers to appear on police blotters.
If that weren’t enough, left guard Mike Iupati, a three-time Pro Bowler, plans to sign with Arizona when free agency begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
It was a day of shock waves. The team’s fans, still trying to process the upheaval that occurred when head coach Jim Harbaugh departed at season’s end, were left reeling.
Remember two years ago when the 49ers were in the Super Bowl, one win away from a Championship with their super talented quarterback, dominate defense and superb head coach? I do, because apparently that’s all 49ers fans are going to have to hold on to now that their coach was forced out of town, their quarterback is more concerned with arguing with Twitter trolls then becoming a better player and their entire defense is retiring or signing with other teams. The Patrick Willis news really hurts the most. I knew Harbaugh was gone, I knew Gore was most likely gone, I knew Justin Smith would probably retire and free agency signings affect every team. But Willis was our guy. An All Pro linebacker on the field, a locker room leader off the field and a guy you never heard a bad thing about. As long as we had him anchoring the middle of the field on defense, I always had a weird reassurance that we’d be OK. Maybe we wouldn’t be that dominate team that reached the Super Bowl, but we’d be OK. Now all I want to do is wallow in my own self pity. The life of a sports fan is a cruel one.