There are a lot of people who love the San Francisco 49ers, and there are a lot of people who love the Baltimore Ravens. When added together, this number easily extends into the millions and may even creep into eight figures. Since I’m feeling generous, let’s say this total is over eight figures. Let’s say twelve, no, fifteen million people are totally in love with the Baltimore Ravens or the San Francisco 49ers. They’ve been watching the games all season, may or may not have bumper stickers on their car and may or may not paint their faces David Puddy style. Everyone in this group will be watching the game this weekend with furious passion.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say there’s another fifteen million people out there who just aggressively despise one of these teams. They either love the Raiders and hate the 49ers or love the Steelers and hate the Ravens or got cut off in traffic by Ray Lewis once or walked in on their fiancée having sex with one of the team’s trainers. Altogether, that would make thirty million people with a clear rooting interest in either someone winning or someone losing, a figure that is comically dwarfed by the number of viewers who will decide which team to root for based on a number of smaller factors they have either already considered or haven’t yet considered.

The following list is for people who need something to push them toward the 49ers, toward the Ravens, away from the 49ers or away from the Ravens. It’s for the football traditionalist who isn’t quite sure whether he likes watching Colin Kapernick scramble out of the pocket. It’s for the disgruntled Minnesota Vikings fan who is impressed by the Ravens defense but bothered by how quickly they’re willing to step over the line. It’s for the twenty-something more concerned with the Salad Nicoise for his Super Bowl party and for the high schooler who wants you to remind her which two teams are playing again. It’s for all of us stuck in the middle.

Here are some random factors, some football related and some not, to think about before Sunday’s kickoff…
Reason To Root For The 49ers: Loyalty To David Akers
San Francisco 49ers kicker David Akers plowed his massive left foot into the football like a man possessed last year. He made an NFL record forty-four field goals, threw a touchdown pass on a fake and went to the Pro Bowl as the best kicker in the NFC. Unfortunately, this year has been just as much of an emotional extreme but in the opposite direction.

Poor Akers has kicked like a man only vaguely interested in saving his job. The thirty-eight-year-old has missed fourteen field goals including one during the NFC Championship Game. Members of the media and even many 49ers fans have publically called for him to be thrown off the team and replaced with anyone else, but through it all, coach Jim Harbaugh has continuously said he believes in David and will stick with him. That kind of loyalty is rare in football, and it has led many to hope Akers rewards that confidence with a good performance during the Super Bowl.

Reason To Root Against The 49ers: Chris Culliver’s Ugly Comments About Gay People
Many residents of San Francisco might pride themselves on being open to everything from homosexuality to bisexuality to transgender(ism?) to healthy experimentation, but apparently, 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver is not among that generous lot. He appeared on Artie Lange’s radio show earlier this week to hype the Super Bowl, but instead, he wound up pissing off sensible people all over the country by saying he would want any teammate who came out of the closet kicked out of the organization, regardless of how talented they might be.

In the days since, Culliver has apologized and plenty of his teammates have publically issued comments saying they’d gladly play alongside a gay teammate, but considering Ravens star Brendon Ayanbadejo has long been a vocal supporter of equal marriage rights for everyone, this whole mess is a fine enough reason to root against the 49ers. Sorry San Francisco, but oddly, in this instance, you’re somehow less gay friendly than Baltimore. Somewhere John Waters is smiling.

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