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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.

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.

"I don't care where they're at as long as I'm in there," he said. He plans to wear his "lucky" gold, red and white Adidas.

Lewis said he owns 36 of the team's jerseys; his first has Jerry Rice's number on it. On Thursday he was at the All American Sports Fan store at Coddingtown Mall, picking out a jersey for his girlfriend Sophia Perez.

"She's been a Raiders fan all her life," he said. "She's just finally converted."

The store's best-selling 49er jersey has inside linebacker Patrick Willis's name on it, said salesman Sam Louden. But fans are buying lots of others, too.

"We can't keep Frank Gore's in the store," he said.

The jerseys' prices range from $89.95 for a "replica" to $250 for an "authentic" game model. Also popular are the 2011 NFC West Division Champions T-shirt for $29.95.

Over at Ausiello's 5th Street Grill in Santa Rosa, owner Armand Ausiello is expecting "a sea of red" on hand Saturday. And he isn't afraid to warn the regulars who come to watch satellite games of the much-touted Green Bay Packers to find another venue "IF they make it to the NFC Championship Game" because he expects the 49ers to be there, too.

As for Saturday's match-up with the high-scoring Saints, Ausiello is looking forward to "a great defense going against a great offense. It can't get any better than that."

Tracy Sawyer of Sebastopol also is hoping Green Bay doesn't make it to the NFC championship game. Her husband Tom and she work as ushers at Candlestick. If Green Bay loses and the 49ers win, the next playoff game would be in San Francisco, she said.

Candlestick on game day buzzes with excitement, Sawyer said. "I expect that will be over the top for a playoff game."

Larry Wilson of Santa Rosa has invited a half-dozen longtime friends to watch the game with him at home. Wilson, 65, whose team memories go back to the days of quarterback John Brodie, put the team's chances Saturday at 50/50.

Even so, he took comfort that "it seems like we're peaking right now and things are going amazingly well."

Cody Arthur, a Sonoma State University student and Rohnert Park resident, said over the years quarterback Alex Smith and the team have been "battered" by criticism but have persevered to emerge as contenders.

"Even if they lose," Arthur said, "it won't matter because it's been such a great season. It's brought so much back to the Bay."