Joe Rosato Jr.
Fans are buying Niners gear as fast as dealers can put it out. The big game with the Saints will be at Candlestick Park tomorrow afternoon
As the 49ers dive into the playoffs for the first time since 2002, fans are busy gearing up.
The 49ers faithful jammed the NFL Shop at San Francisco’s Pier 39 on Friday, snatching up anything red and gold.
“We’re buying jerseys, we’re buying shirts,” said Sean Grace, who had just flown in from Tampa, Florida for Saturday’s game against the Saints. “We’re going to ‘red’ it out tomorrow.”
The game against the Saints marks the end of the 49ers long playoff drought going back to 2002. With the drought over, fans like Charles Matthew Duncan were warming up their vocal chords.
“You can feel the energy, it’s buzzing everywhere,” Duncan said. “In the streets - it’s everywhere.”
There’s no mistaking the football allegiance of Jose Torres -- at least not when he’s behind the wheel of his truck. The red truck was adorned with 49ers flags and a license plate that read “9er Finest.” And that wasn’t even the game day look, which features more flags and 49ers magnets on the sides.
“We haven’t been in the playoffs since ’02,” Torres said. “So we’re going to keep it up hopefully this year, and make it to the Super Bowl.”
And red and gold commerce was abound. The Alioto-Lazio fish company at Fisherman’s Wharf was busy selling crabs for game-day parties. Plenty of visiting Saint’s fans were popping in to admire the tanks filled with Dungeness Crabs.
“The Saints have been marching in since yesterday,” snarled co-owner Annette Traverso beneath her 49er pullover cap.
Saints’ fans got the welcome mat rolled out at San Francisco’s Fior D’Italia Restaurant. The owner advertised it as a welcome lunch for Saints Fans. Exactly two fans had shown up by early afternoon.
Peggy Hooper from Lake Charles, Louisiana said so far, 49er fans had been kind. “We just had one person say it’s going to be a long flight back,” Hooper said.
The NFL Shop said excitement over the 49ers unlikely playoff run had driven up sales 20 percent. But even with team jerseys bearing names like Crabtree, Smith and Davis, the manager said the most popular jersey was still Montana.