Alex Smith and Vernon Davis hooked up for one of the most memorable touchdowns in San Francisco 49ers history last Saturday, lifting the Niners into weekend’s NFC title game. The moment was icing on the cake for super fan Mark Castanon, who scored a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity earlier in the week.
Castanon, 50 of San Jose, a 49ers fan through and through, was selected as the Vick’s NyQuil/DayQuil Most Dedicated Fan last Tuesday. The top prize: Two tickets, airfare, lodging and eight days in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.
“My hands wouldn’t stop shaking,” Castanon said. “I was exploding after getting off the phone. First person I wanted to call was my wife, but she was helping in our daughter’s first-grade class. I had to wait a hour and a half.”
The 90-minute wait was nothing compared with what Castanon went through during a three-month span to earn the Most Dedicated Fan title. Fans from across the country were asked to enter on Facebook and submit “a photo with a personalized rally cry that shows why they are the Most Dedicated Fan,” according to the official contest rules. Of the thousands of entries, 32 semi-finalists – representing the 32 NFL teams – were chosen.
The selected 32 were given three challenges: 1. Send in a game-face photo; 2: Submit a touchdown dance video; 3. Take a picture of your fan cave.
That’s where the fun began.
Contestants were asked to hit the social media platforms, asking for “retweets” on Twitter and “likes” on Facebook. Votes for each challenge were tabulated and counted toward the final selection.
“The touchdown dance was probably the best part of the whole thing,” Castanon said.
It makes sense he holds that sentiment. Castanon received permission from the 49ers to film the 1-minute clip inside Candlestick Park.
“That was the top fan experience,” added Castanon, who sported a helmet, Frank Gore jersey and a pair of football pants lent to him by the Niners, in the video where he dashed to the end zone.
Castanon, who is originally from Stockton, said his fandom dates back to 1979. He attended his first regular-season game in 1997 and was in the stands for the Steve-Young-to-Terrell Owens “The Catch 2” against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs that same season. He inherited season tickets from a friend in the early 2000s and since has been neck-deep in everything 49ers, eloquently, and exuberantly describing himself as “a fan who schedules the year based on off-season and in-season events – from the NFL combine, to the NFL Draft, (organized team activities) and training camp, pre-season games, a season tickets holder and a constant blog, news (TV and print) follower – I definitely am a true fan.”
As the winner, Castanon was also given a Visa gift card, which he said will go to his wife.
“She was such a great sport in letting me do this,” he said. “It took a lot of time because I wanted to show that I was involved.”
There is no doubt where Castanon will be today at 3:30 p.m. as the Niners host the New York Giants at Candlestick Park for a trip to the Super Bowl.
“There are so many really great and spirited 49ers fans,” Castanon said. “I feel like I am a good representative for all of them.”
As for his prediction. It can only be serendipitous.
“I feel destiny coming,” he said. “The team has all the intangibles. And for my favorite team to make it the year I win a trip to the Super Bowl, that would be the ultimate.”