49ers faithful relish return to playoffs

  • Jon Lewis of Santa Rosa picks out a Patrick Willis jersey for his girlfriend at the All American Sports Fan store in the Coddingtown Mall on Thursday. Lewis, who says he was "born wrapped in a 49er blanket," owns 36 49er jerseys from the past and present and convinced his Raider fan girlfriend to wear red and gold when they attend the game on Sunday.

The wait is over.

Forty-Niner faithful on Saturday will don red jerseys, black "Harbaugh" caps and even gold and red Adidas as they celebrate their team's first playoff appearance since 2002.

For those watching from Candlestick Park or gathering in sports bars and homes, Saturday's game against the New Orleans Saints will be all the sweeter "because we've had a long, dry spell here," said Bud Anderson, an Oakmont resident and fan for more than 60 years.

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Anderson, 85, whose 25 years as a season ticket holder included both the dejection of losing teams and the delights of five Super Bowl victories, was among those surprised by the 49ers' surprisingly strong 13-3 record under coach Jim Harbaugh this year. Anderson joked he was so pleased "that I stopped swearing at the TV set."

Among those planning to watch from the stands Saturday is Dave Holwerda, a Santa Rosan who will be driving to Candlestick in his gold, 1985 Jeep Cherokee, complete with red stripes and 49er helmet decals.

Holwerda, 30, recalled thinking as a child in the team's glory years that Super Bowl parties were "just a Niners' party." But as a season ticket holder in the last few years, he has taken his share of grief, including from those who four months earlier were taunting him about the ease of "getting scalped tickets for 20 bucks."

He said his mother pretty well summed up the magic of Saturday's game: "You're a lucky boy. This doesn't happen very often."

Re-sale tickets are still available from various outlets, but don't expect to find them cheap.

On Thursday evening, Stub Hub advertised 2,900 tickets for sale. The least expensive seats were going for about $160, but those lower in the stands could easily cost around $300 and many closest to the field were priced between $500 and $1,000.

Jon Lewis, 33, of Santa Rosa said he lined up four tickets for $170 each in the upper seats.

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