The exhilarating resurgence of the 49ers stands in stark contrast to the fragile state of the Kings, a difference in fortunes that is wider than the 90 miles between the two cities.
Until this year, both franchises were mired in perpetual losing seasons, fired coaches and public pratfalls.
But while the 49ers will host the New Orleans Saints on Saturday in a highly anticipated playoff clash, the Kings have five consecutive losing seasons and are already wobbling toward a sixth.
How? Why? Some might dismiss the differences between the two franchises as apples and oranges, and they'd be right in many respects.
But all of the differences cannot be discarded because they illustrate the contrast between between stability and insecurity; success and failure.
In a few years, the 49ers will move into a gleaming new building in Santa Clara valued at $1 billion. The 49ers play in a league the NFL where big-city and small-market teams distribute revenues evenly so that commercial and athletic success depends on performance and not market size.
For all their past foibles, the 49ers owners were intimately involved in their stadium effort. They built alliances with corporate partners and politicians.
They pressed the flesh and acted as if the Bay Area were the only place they would ever want to be.
And why not?
A private sector fueled by technology money created the capacity for Santa Clara, the 49ers and the NFL to borrow the money they needed to fund the new stadium.
Sacramento has a comparatively weak private sector. The headquarters of the largest publicly traded company, Waste Connections, is bolting town, citing an anti-business environment.
If Sacramento is able to finance an arena it will be because the city would have successfully contracted out its public parking operations to the tune of $200 million and an as-yet unknown party would have supplied the remainder of the $400 million price tag.
Sacramento simply can't borrow to make up the rest.
Meanwhile, the NBA does not distribute its revenues as extensively as the NFL. Big-money NBA free agents don't want to play in places like Sacramento. They want to be in New York or Los Angeles, a league culture that calls into question whether the NBA works in small markets.
And for years, the Kings owners have been in debt, estranged from Sacramento and acting as if they wanted to leave.
No one can say that Sacramento loves its team any less than San Francisco. Fans have provided the Kings sellout crowds for 19 of 26 seasons.
But being successful and playing in marquee playoff games, as the 49ers will this Saturday, has nothing to do with love.
It's a lot more complicated.