It’s time to choose a side for Super Bowl Sunday

Chances are that you’re not a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs or the San Francisco 49ers – if you were, you’d either be flying to Miami or already nervously pacing the living room and unable to read this column. Which means … you’ve got a choice to make.

Given that watching sports without some kind of vested rooting interest just isn’t as much fun as having someone to cheer for, you’ve got a few hours left to figure out the recipient of your temporary allegiance.

This is a process that plays out year after year and doesn’t have a whole lot of rhyme or logic, except that it should always be completed before the first chip hits the salsa. The ramifications of the annual decision last for all of one evening, and then it’s done. And it boils down to a single question: who do you want to win the Super Bowl?

According to the sports fan code of conduct, putting your backing behind a team other than your own is, at any time, questionable behavior at best. Yet the Super Bowl allows for a free pass on such matters, based on the basic reality that it’s unrealistic to spend the greatest Sunday on the calendar as an avowed neutral.

Therefore, football lovers, those who tolerate football, and even those who are just watching because everyone else is and the food’s in front of the TV, get to decide upon the criteria that will make them scream for the Chiefs or the Niners as things unfold from Hard Rock Stadium.

“Of course, we want people behind us,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said this week. “We’re focused on our jobs and what we’re doing, but you always want people on your side.”

“We’re a dynamic, relentless team that gives its all and is desperate to win,” 49ers running back Tevin Coleman countered, explaining why his team was worthy of favor. “We’ve shown what kind of team we are and that we are together no matter what.”

During the week, there have been more Chiefs fans in the tourist spots of Miami than those from San Francisco, and they’ve been doing their part to win over the locals and any fence-sitters.

Red-clad supporters playing musical instruments (including a banjo), handing out Chiefs stickers and others even sporting T-shirts reading “Chiefs love Miami” have formed a charm offensive on South Beach that was always bound to play well in these parts.

“Inside our stadium, we try to be the loudest, most intimidating fan base in the world,” K.C. fan Kayla Norgren told me. “But get us outside and we are fun and friendly. It’s nice to get some sunshine and it feels like a lot of people are rooting for us.”

She’s right. Well — probably right. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid might have a lot to do with it, having been unofficially installed as the People’s Choice for the game, thanks to his football longevity, career achievement and maybe, for some, that wonderful walrus mustache.

“I’m humbled by it,” Reid said this week, as he prepares for the ultimate challenge as the winningest NFL coach never to have tasted Super Bowl glory.

The Chiefs’ style also plays well with undecided fans, with Patrick Mahomes and that electrifying offense being hard to take your eyes away from.

But the 49ers are not without neutral allegiance also, especially for those who remember just how miserable the team was in the recent past. After an uninspiring 4-12 finish last season, the team has become a truly dominant force, thanks to the coaching smarts of Kyle Shanahan, some wise acquisitions and an extremely tight locker room bond.

“Why not (root for us)?!,” longtime 49ers fan Craig Harrington said. “History of success, going for our sixth trophy — gold is actually one of our colors, which is what winners want. And we have the QB that Bill in New England wants. This team represents everything great about football.”

There are all kinds of reasons why each team has a certain likability about it — and then there is the reality that for some people, none of those reasons matter. All across America and around the world, there will be plenty for whom their support is predicated on the color of the jerseys, or because they think Mahomes or Jimmy Garoppolo is particularly good looking (tough matchup; the money line there would interesting) or because they once took a business trip to one of the cities and had a particularly good (or bad) meal.

There are also many for whom there are compelling reasons to back both teams, leaving their hearts torn. For those folks, Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens has some sympathy.

“I played eight years with the San Francisco 49ers and I went to the Super Bowl with Andy Reid (and the Eagles),” Owens told FOX and Friends. “So, I am a bit torn.”

He’s not the only one. Like everyone else, he’d better make up his mind quickly.