The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders are two organizations with extremely different backgrounds. The 49ers were pigeon-holed as being all finesse and precision, while the Raiders were the overly aggressive, dirty team.
If you were to take a look at the two teams today, it is actually the 49ers who are the tougher, more physical team. Under head coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers like to pound you with the running of Frank Gore, and control the ball with the short passing game. They rely on their strong, imposing defense to win games.
Now, the 49ers have made some offseason moves to bolster a weak receiving corps. However, under Harbaugh, you can bet that the 49ers will always be a very physical team that will try to beat you up on both sides of the ball.
In recent years, it has actually been the Raiders who have gone to more of the speed and finesse game, especially on offense. The Raiders' top running back is the fast, dynamic Darren McFadden.
Oakland also possesses great speed and quickness with receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy. It is the Raiders who like to stretch the field and throw the ball deep.
The two fanbases are very different, but in many ways, also very similar.
The characterization is that 49er fans are more wealthy and spoiled. They are white, wine-sipping, quiche-eating snobs.
Meanwhile, across the bay into Oakland, the Raider fans are characterized as belligerent thugs and hoodlums. They are blue-collar people, with a tough, aggressive mindset.
In reality, outside of the 10 percent of fans who actually match these stereotypes, the fanbases of each franchise is a lot more similar than different. Both sets of fans are very knowledgeable about the sport and very passionate about their respective teams.
As the 49ers prepare to complete their move to their shiny new state-of-the-art stadium in Santa Clara, it will only serve to further perpetuate the perception of the 49ers and their fans as the rich snobs of the Bay Area.
Meanwhile, the Raiders are in Oakland, playing in an old, dingy stadium, which perpetuates the blue-collar persona of the Raiders and their fans.
I am a huge 49er fan and have several friends and relatives who are Raider fans. Do 49er fans all wear slacks and drink wine at their tailgate parties?
Do all Raider fans wear black face paint and sinister looking outfits, drinking only beer or Jack Daniels when tailgating?
The answer is that most fans—again, outside of the 10 percent who really do fit these stereotypes—are grilling hot dogs, chicken or burgers and drinking beer at their respective parties. Both sets of fans cheer loudly for their team and boo the opposition.
Sadly, there are also some thugs and those who are looking for a fight at both venues.
The fans of the 49ers and Raiders are a lot more alike than different. The bottom line is, both are intensely loyal to their team. In the end, that's all that really counts.