After spending what must have been a sleepless night for many players, the San Francisco 49ers made a long and sober flight home to the Bay Area.
The 49ers lost the Super Bowl 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens late Sunday, but did not fly home until Monday.
The team touched down at Mineta San Jose International Airport at 3:20 p.m.
Three hours before the 49ers plane was supposed to land, fans were already lined up outside the tarmac at Mineta San Jose International Airport to greet the team flying home from New Orleans on a chartered 747-Delta plane.
Most 49er Faithful, however, were feeling like @Billy CrayCray, who Tweeted: "We still love our @49ers. Still hurts but you guys put one of the best fights I've ever seen. #NinersFaithful."
Players were whisked off at the tarmac and on to buses that took them to the team's practice facility up Highway 101.
A larger fan base was there at the Santa Clara facility to welcome the men or red and gold.
One large group came dressed in 49ers garb and carried signs that read "Thank you 4 the great season," and "You made it epic."
The buses drove through the gates without stopping, but many players and team managers sent Tweets of thanks.
- @JedYork: HUGE thank you to some of the true #49ersFaithfulthat are cheering us on at SJC airport. Greatly appreciate it!
- @49ers: Great turnout by the #49ers Faithful who came to greet the team when they arrived in SJ.
- @LarryGrant54: Faithful we love u http://instagr.am/p/VU964yJU6_/
Some fans waited at the gates for a couple hours more hoping to catch a glimpse of a player or coach taking off in their personal cars.
Most players drove by with nothing more than a nod to the cheers. Frank Gore and coach Jim Harbaugh were two of the exceptions. Gore rolled down his window and high-fived the fans standing on the roadway. Harbaugh stopped and signed autographs.
"I'm here to tell the guys last night was epic," Joe Garcia said. "You lived up to everything. They made it epic last night."
Christina Piazza added that she brought her children to see the team return and use it as a life lesson: "I want them to be able to see the aftermath and even encourage them that it isn't over."
The game was indeed epic, going from a blowout to a nail biter with a 34-minute power outage at the Superdome in between.
In the first 11 seconds of the third quarter, a run back by the Ravens put the 49ers behind by 22 points.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick brought the team back to within five points, but failed to convert on three incomplete passes into the end zone with just two minutes left on the clock.
Kaepernick said after the game that the final pass, an overthrown pass to Michael Crabtree, was not the play he called in the huddle. He told reporters he changed the play at the line of scrimmage when he anticipated a blitz by the Ravens.
Kaepernick said later that he made too many mistakes for the team to win.
The Super Bowl was Kaepernick's tenth professional start and teammates are commenting on the character he showed in the loss.
Left tackle Joe Staley said Kaepernick stayed cool the entire game through all the ups and downs.
"Colin was the same he's been the whole entire season. He's never shown any hints of being rattled, any hints of being uncomfortable on the football field. He showed that exact character today," Staley said after the game. He added: "Our future is very bright with Colin.
Team CEO Jed York also spoke about the pride he felt for his team, even in defeat. (See below).
Die-hard fans wanted to thank their team for all their hard work, despite the loss in the Super Bowl. Here's what some Niners Faithful had to say on Twitter.