They thronged sports bars and other gathering places Sunday and cheered, shouted and roared for their beloved San Francisco 49ers, who were trying to reach the Super Bowl for the seventh time.
But the 49er Faithful throughout the Modesto area saw their hopes sacked as the Niners lost 23-17 to the archrival Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.
“It’s unbelievable. We had it for so long and suddenly it ended as a loss,” said Sandra Pineda, who with her husband and adult children had more than 60 family members and friends over to watch the game with them in the converted garage of their Turlock home.
The crowd was so large that many sat in chairs along the driveway. But they had a good view of the game from the four flat-screen TVs mounted on the garage walls.
That was not the only place drawing a crowd Sunday.
About 300 Niners fanatics packed the Lion Sports Bar & Grill on McHenry Avenue in Modesto. Nearly all were members of the Modesto chapter of the Niner Empire fan club. You could hear their shouts and roars a few hundred feet from the sports bar.
“This is the best place to be a 49ers fan in the 209,” fan club member Samantha Acosta said.
There were huge crowds at other restaurants and bars. Laurie Oliver said she and a friend could not get into the Buffalo Wild Wings at Vintage Faire Mall because there was no room. They went to Hero’s Sports Lounge in downtown to watch the game.
Sunday was good for business for those who served the hungry and thirsty Niner fans. Lion Sports Bar & Grill manager Evan Clark said he expected to sell more than twice as many wings than he would on a typical Sunday. Customers were chowing down on appetizers and burgers, and one server expected to earn twice as much in tips.
While many gathered in sports bars for the camaraderie, that sense of togetherness was especially strong at Pineda’s home. She and her husband, Ramon Marroquin, have been hosting Sunday football parties for about a dozen years at their home. Many of Sunday’s guests have been coming for years.
There was plenty to eat and drink: grilled chicken, hot dogs, hot links, menudo and nachos, as well as the side dishes brought by guests.
There also is a lot of good-natured ribbing. Even though there was a Niners flag flying from the roof of Pineda and Marroquin’s home, not everyone was a 49ers fan.
Friend Richard Alavarez, who was manning the barbecue, is a tried-and-true Oakland Raiders fan. Marroquin was wearing a Dallas Cowboys Roger Staubach jersey, in honor of the Hall of Fame quarterback of the 1970s.
Just don’t ask Pineda and Marroquin about The Catch, the touchdown pass that propelled the 49ers past the Cowboys in the 1982 NFC Championship Game and marked the start of the 49ers’ dominance over the next decade.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.