Wall-to-wall loyalty for Auburn’s 49ers super fan
Dee Nann’s passion for the San Francisco 49ers started in earnest when she was a Colfax Falcons football mom in the early 1980s.
Falcons varsity football coach George Massick, who would lead the Colfax High School team to its first section championship in 1986, wondered if some of the mothers of the players wanted to learn more about what their sons were doing out there on the field on Friday nights.
Nann, whose son Frank Jr., was a center on the team, said she jumped at the chance.
So Massick assembled the women in a classroom and taught them the intricacies of offensive and defensive strategies.
Nann started watching with a new clarity and the San Francisco native was soon swept up in the excitement surrounding the 49ers as they won five Super Bowls through 1995.
Nann, 82, said Dwight Clark’s spectacular 1981 National Football League conference championship-securing grab of a lob from Joe Montana – simply known in football annals as ‘The Catch’ – cemented a love affair for the 49ers that continues to this day.
In 1992, Nann put up one poster in a spare bedroom and from there, the collection grew across all four walls, onto existing shelf space and into the hallway of her Auburn-area home.
“I’m very proud of my room,” Nann said.
Jerry Rice, Montana, Young and other 49ers greats all have their place in Nann’s red and gold shrine to her favorite team.
There’s a letter from Rice, a statuette of the Hall of Fame receiver and a signed football. Montana photos abound. And Young’s helmet, obtained by a relative at an auction for the quarterback’s alma mater Brigham Young University, holds a place of honor.
But the 49ers minutiae separates this collection from the dens, lairs and man caves that may have a poster or two for San Francisco and then some bric-a-brac from other sports teams. Nann’s room is all 49ers, all the time, wall-to-wall.
There are 49ers salt-and-pepper shakers, Niners Christmas ornaments, Christmas cards from the team, letters from players, and San Francisco golf balls.
There are 49ers coffee mugs and Niners beer steins. In one corner is a lit-up statuette of a 49ers quarterback making a pass. Sit down and you’ll be resting your back on a 49ers logo-emblazoned cushion. Look up and you’ll see team photos from all the Super Bowl teams looking down at you.
There are hats, plates, dolls and an assortment of books, including several 49ers cookbooks. Want to know how to prepare Dwight Clark’s Chocolate Cake or Keena Turner’s Catfish recipe? Look inside the 1989 “Cookin’ with Champions.”
There’s even a completed jigsaw puzzle on the wall that elicits some puzzlement. What does a selection of foods, with no 49er in sight, mean? Nann explains that it represents an important part of the 49ers fan experience – the pre-game tailgate parties.
Nann has been going to 49ers games since the mid-1950s, initially with her late husband, Frank Sr., at old Kezar Stadium. Frank Sr. grew up three blocks from the stadium and used to sell programs at games. In 1990, they attended the Super Bowl in New Orleans and watched the 49ers roll over the Denver Broncos 55-10.
Asked to pick a favorite piece of 49ers memorabilia, Nann is quick with an answer. She assembled and lovingly placed all the pieces herself. It’s all good from her perspective.
“The whole room is my favorite,” Nann said.
Come game time on Super Sunday, Nann will be cheering in front of the TV set like all the other 49ers super fans. But she may just be in the upper echelon. She’s even written to owner Jed York, inviting him to check out the sporting shrine if he’s up in the foothills. So far, she hasn’t heard back.
But one thing is guaranteed, it will be a Super Sunday for one super fan in the Auburn area.
“It definitely has to be the Niners,” Nann said.