The 49ers brought FanFest to Candlestick Park and unveiled new amenities to the stadium, but what stood out was the dislike for quarterback Alex Smith.
Smith, the much-maligned signal-caller entering his seventh season with the Niners, has had to adjust to a new offensive coordinator in each of his pro seasons. Smith has also had to work through several shoulder surgeries, but none of that seemed to matter to most of the 49ers faithful in attendance Sunday.
Fans didn’t cut Smith any slack as each of his snaps, check-downs and incomplete passes were followed with boos while rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick received plenty of love from the crowd.
Kids were able to partake in drills on the field before the 49ers’ practice session and have memorabilia signed after practice. It was obvious from the reaction, fans will have a short temper should Smith sputter this season.
“We have a lot of potential, and I hope that we can make the playoffs, but we just have to get rid of Smith,” said 68-year-old fan Rex Reyes as he watched practice. “The defense looked good, our offensive line looked shaky. At the end of the day though, I’d rather have Kaepernick than Smith.”
Although the 49ers didn’t exactly look crisp in Friday’s preseason opener, a 24-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints, there was still optimism they could contend for the NFC West title amongst fans.
And not everyone in attendance Sunday was a anti-Smith, as some spectators attributed Smith’s struggles due to having to learning new offensive systems.
“I feel like with [Jim] Harbaugh [as the coach], he’ll finally get a good shot to see what he can do,” David Gerard said. “I’m a 49er fan and with Alex Smith on the team, I’m going to root for him. I still like our chances to win the division.”
Before the 49ers settled on the field for practice, fans were welcomed to the new Grand Plaza, located at the Northeast section of Candlestick Park.
With new reconfigured entrance gates, fans will be able to enjoy the new 49er museum, which shows off 49er Hall of Fame plaques, their five Super Bowl trophies and rings, as well as the viewing of their first Super Bowl triumph.
Also included is a new outdoor sports bar, live entertainment, a “kids zone” with a condensed football field and inflatable games, local food trucks and a store carrying only women’s merchandise.
“This will provide a different element to the game day experience that our fans have been asking for, and we’re happy to provide it,” Vice President of Stadium and Security Operations Jim Mercurio said.