Sunday morning, I'm sitting in the car, texting feverently to Sam Lam, previous writer here at SB Nation Bay Area and current 49ers Examiner for Examiner.com. Can I get to Gate C from the main parking lot? I'm usually on the right side, but that's on the left side, is it a straight shot or is there a barrier? What if it's raining and my new, nice shirt meant to make a good impression is ruined? I bothered Sam with all manner of questions, save for the last one. He was infinitely helpful, the only issue was in perception.
His directions to lead me to the 49ers Rambus Press Box, which was indeed my destination, were given to me, how you say, backwards. Sam was coming from a different direction I was, so every time he said "pass this, and then go to that," it was "pass that, realize it when I see this, turn around to go find that again." Once I figured out the directions in reverse, I was well on my way. I was go be in the press box for the 49ers-vs Cardinals game, so I was feeling pretty confident at that point.
I found my way through Gate D, which was not Gate C as Sam suggested, but he steered me in the right direction ... then told me to go to the left one. Turns out, he should have stuck to the norm and told me to go right. Almost halfway around the stadium, I realized thirty or so steps the other way initially would have yielded the press elevator I was supposed to be riding up. No problem, I know what I'm doing. Confidence. I stop, look over the side and pretend I was very interested in something in the parking lot. There was nothing of consequence out there, just a couple of guys with an impromptu rap about the red fog or something to that effect.
My facade continued and I walked back the way I came, passing the ladies who searched my laptop bag previously, I smiled as though I wasn't lost and that clearly I knew where I was going. Either way, I found section sixteen as I was supposed to. The elevator was supposed to be adjacent, but it wasn't. I panicked, looking for the gift shop I was told about, then noticed the elevator right in front of me, with CSN Bay Area reporter Matt Maiocco standing in front of it.
Alright. I dug into my pocket, pulled out my media pass because I'd forgot to bring a means for it to hang around my neck. As I rode up the elevator, I realized Sam's instructions were actually pretty darn good, I was just reading them from the other direction. Either way, I made it up there and realized there was more to the place than I had thought. I would have been lost, if not for Maiocco right in front of me. I shuffled behind him until I found the press box.
I was still a little nervous, I didn't really know any of these people, and I couldn't see Sam Lam anywhere. I was asked if I needed help, gave my name and was showed to my seat. Front row, seat seventeen. I didn't know if that was good or not, but I was next to somebody from Spanish publication. Either way, I sat down, plugged in my laptop, and fired off an email to my editor, David Fucillo.
The view was fantastic, I could see everything, and there was plenty of food. Including a phone with some numbers to order more of it, I think. There was a press packet and a gameday program waiting for me, and a roster summary. The packet had all kinds of great little stats in it, including any possible milestones and things of that nature. I felt important immediately, but I have a huge ego anyway, so I was already looking around at people I was better than.
Just kidding on that last part. Anyway, Sam Lam eventually arrived, shook my hand and we talked a little about how things would go down. He mentioned he was sitting on the second row, and I asked him if that meant he was better than me. A little bit was the implied response, which was perfectly understandable. He described how the postgame press conference would be going down, and introduces me to Ryan, the PR guy for the San Jose SaberCats, a team I will be covering extensively here on SB Nation Bay Area, as well as on Examiner.com and had a productive talk with him regarding my media access.
Following that, I went outside the press box and fought through the crowd to find my parents, my brother and my nephew to talk myself up and do a little bit of bragging. But the game was on in ten minutes and Sam had already given me a story about how he was late due to fighting crowds. So I sprinted back to the box and was thoroughly tired at that point. I hadn't slept a whole lot and I'm not in the greatest shape of my life. Shutup.
The team announced inactives, and they were read off really fast by a guy who was giving it personally before it was announced over the speaker. Finally, I was tweeting things and reporting them like the other guys. I had my tweet go out first, and felt proud of myself for it. Then the game was going, and I was sitting there, pecking away at the keyboard as fast as I could, doing an awful lot more writing than the man next to me. He enjoyed the nachos immensely, from what I could gather.
I tweeted like a mad man, and did my best not to cheer at all. In fact, I didn't once throughout the whole game, which was a big step for me. When Vernon Davis was running for his touchdown, I clenched my fist tight but avoided doing any kind of fist pump. Any thing that spurned emotion was a big hit or big play that was met with admiration from everyone in the press box, but nothing that betrayed any rooting interest. They have these big screens at the top of the press box for replays just for us, which was great. I was almost directly under them, so I had to crane my neck an awful lot.
As I mentioned, I hadn't slept much the night before, so when the game started winding down, I was pretty tired. It was still exciting, but the stadium was empty and the atmosphere wasn't there. Sam Lam got ready to head to the field for the press conference, I went ahead and passed. Finished up my articles, packed up and went out to the parking lot for some hot dogs, which was a fantastic choice.
Overall, it was a pretty fantastic day for me. I met a few people, and I got to do what I've been aiming at for some time, and with any luck, I'll spend some time there next season as well. The 49ers are very accommodating, and the view is the best in the stadium. I could see who did what, I can see who was going to do what, and I want to spend any future games up there. Throughout this offseason, I should spend some time at the 49ers training camp, make sure you follow me on Twitter @ninnyjams, and follow @SLam49ers as well, since he helped me out so much - even if I didn't quite understand his directions all the time.