When did the 49ers win their first Super Bowl? When did the Giants win the 2010 World Series? When the Warriors launched their fabulous dynasty six seasons ago with an NBA championship?
Or was it the last Super Bowl on Sunday, when the 49ers lost a fourth quarter lead and were run over by the Kansas City Chiefs, and perhaps inadvertently saved thousands of lives?
San Francisco and California led the country in responding to the coronaviruses. We have shown how to flatten the lethal curve. This is largely due to the bold and intelligent leadership of Mayor London Breed, Governor Gavin Newsom and our medical community. But there is also an element of pure luck that was not sure at the time.
Dr. Niraj Sehgal is the head of the UCSF COVID-19 Command Center. In a recent town hall video, Dr. Sehgal talked about the UCSF and the city as Ground Zero for the response to coronaviruses, and he presented a scary scenario.
“People may not remember it as well,” said Dr. Sehgal, “but (the) Super Bowl weekend, in some ways, with apologies to 49ers fans, the gift we perhaps received was the loss of the 49ers.
“If you think about what happened this weekend, if the 49ers won, and there were parades and parties at that time, it may have had an impact that I have not seen actually described. “
Let’s describe it.
Thousands of fans reportedly met their conquering heroes on Monday afternoon when the 49ers’ plane landed from Miami. Bars and restaurants throughout the bay area are said to have been crowded with celebrants. The parties galore. Wednesday, parade on Market Street! Over a million fans flocked along the route, some seated on their shoulders to spot their heroes.
In short, a wonderful crush on happy humanity – and a Disneyland for the coronavirus. We would have been removed from society like sardines.
Remember, these were innocent moments. We knew the virus was hidden, but it was a distant threat, a slight concern. We didn’t know it was among us, looking for an opportunity to thrive.
Our guard was lowered. The toilet paper was plentiful. The fear was for the wimps. We have always gone to basketball games and concerts together, but nothing like what would have happened if the 49ers had won.
The NBA closed on March 11. San Francisco closed on March 16, by order of Breed. Newsom’s state foreclosure orders followed three days later. The Super Bowl was February 2.
“This is a date I will never forget,” said Dr. Sehgal, “because the Super Bowl Sunday was actually the night we officially got up, our command center. And the reason is another – again, it’s funny to call it a gift – the gift we got, two of the first patients in the country who had to be hospitalized.
“They arrived in the middle of the night, I will never forget to be seated in this ambulance bay when these first two patients wound up, a husband and a wife who looked terrified because of all this who surrounded them. And it also forced our organization to sort of, we were in the game quickly and in five days we became the regional and national experts on how to do it, because everyone was three to five days late . “
The reaction of the UCSF was therefore spectacular and became the national model, a literal lifeline.
But what would happen if we had given the virus this parade and all this social distancing? Like giving a pogo stick to Michael Jordan.
The old expression is: “I prefer to be lucky than good.” The Bay Area was both.
What about the loss of the 49ers’ Super Bowl? It does not seem so disastrous.
Scott Ostler is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @scottostler