What Bay Area story did he consider bigger? Andrew Luck? Mark Jackson becoming coach of the Warriors? The 49ers’ run to the NFC Championship Game? Or him becoming afternoon drive host on San Francisco’s 95.7 The Game?
“Don’t be an ass, come on,” Tierney shot back over the telephone. "I’m not saying that. Stop.”
Shocking. Tierney, never shy about extolling his own virtues, didn’t take the bait. Maybe the three-hour time difference has humbled him. Yeah, sure. We felt like one of Tierney’s callers. The Dismissive One had more substantive issues to deal with.
Like the Niners and their fans who are calling to remind him how he put them down, even as they rolled along to a 13-3 season. “I didn’t believe in the Niners, at all,” Tierney said. “I was getting pummeled out here.”
For Tierney, who teams with former Niners cornerback Eric Davis, the taste of crow ain’t half bad. He finds himself in the middle of what will be the football universe, taking calls from fans who believe the 49ers will dismantle the Giants Sunday in Candlestick.
In the fans’ minds, Tierney, raised in Brooklyn, isn’t just from the the other side of the country. He’s from another planet. And he likes the Giants Sunday, 24-17.
For the talkie, it’s all about material. Tierney had no idea the ground would become so fertile when he decided to pull up stakes with his wife Jennifer and move across the country. See, in San Francisco, a relatively tranquil place, Bennys from the Bronx and Iras from Staten Island don’t grow on trees.
When we last left Tierney it was late July. In May, after nine years yakking at the station, ESPN-1050 boss David Roberts unceremoniously dropped-kicked him out the studio door.
Tierney landed on the dock of the Bay in August and immediately proceeded to target the Oakland A’s and their fans. Another detail: 95.7 The Game is the radio home of the A’s. He referred to their stadium as “a coffin,” said the team was “atrocious,” and characterized A’s fans as “insane” for supporting a product pitched by an owner who “can’t wait” to move the team to San Jose.
It wasn’t exactly love at first bite between Tierney and the Northern California Chapter of the Valley of the Stupid. Tierney decided to champion another seemingly lost cause. Last summer, almost every caller wanted Niners brass to dump Alex Smith.
“Every ounce of emotion was anti-Alex Smith,” Tierney said. “Fans had already cut the cord. They were convinced he was beyond rehabilitation, that he was mentally weak, he couldn’t make the throws — just not the guy.”
Tierney decided to play voice of reason. He wanted to see Smith with his own eyes.
“I said it wouldn’t be fair of me to bury this guy,” Tierney said. “Just like I wouldn’t want you (listeners) burying me after one show.”
Six months later Tierney is still talking on the radio. And Smith is coming off a memorable performance against the Saints that helped propel the Niners into the championship game. Those shovels are still in the closet.
Tierney is on the air. Two days away from the title game and you don’t hear the typical New York bashing from 49ers fans. Nor are the Giants being pounded either. It all seems so civil.
“It’s more of an anti-national sentiment from these 49er fans,” Tierney said. “They think the rest of the country is lined up against them. They believe the Niners get no respect. They have a chip on their shoulders.
“That old perception of Niners fans — a little passive, the wine and cheese thing. That’s been replaced by a new generation that hasn’t won. They are grittier, more vocal.”
As far as that “vocal” thing, Tierney can’t say the same for Niners GM Trent Baalke, who has a weekly segment on his show.
“Compared to Trent, Mike Tannenbaum comes off like Chris (Mad Dog) Russo. I’m serious. Trent is a very conservative guy,” Tierney said. “We may have had a personality conflict early on, but I will never let it get in the way of telling Trent what a great job he’s done.”
Ah, that’s sweet.
Jim Harbaugh is under contract to KNBR, the radio home of the Niners, but makes a monthly appearance on Tierney’s show.
“He’s got a little (Eric) Mangini in him. Long term I’m not sure that’s a great thing. If he has his first seven-win season that act doesn’t fly as much,” Tierney said. “He’s pissed some people off, there’s no doubt. I’d be lying if I said everybody likes Jim Harbaugh, but everybody certainly respects him.”
The West Coast has not interfered with Tierney’s ability to infuriate. Nor did it damage his all-knowing attitude. Tierney says he roams the streets of San Francisco anonymously. He says it’s not like New York where he was recognized by cabbies and characters looking for his opinion.
He misses that. The ego is still there (duh).
Still, Tierney has plenty of company from the old “neighborhood.” Jackson, David Lee, Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and even Nate Robinson are all out there.
“Hey,” he said, “all we need is Isiah (Thomas) and we’ve officially got a circus.”
Then Brandon Tierney laughed.
It was the laugh of a man comfortable in his new surroundings.