Niners faithful celebrate as team clinches playoff berth

Mike Koozmin/The SF ExaminerA shutout win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday gave the team its first playoff berth since 2002 -- and its fans a reason to party.

Fans had a lot to celebrate after the 49ers’ NFC West-clinching victory Sunday — and they were given every opportunity to revel in the glory.

Despite the new ban on postgame tailgating at Candlestick Park that sprung from violent incidents at a preseason game that sent two people to the hospital, dozens of fans barbecued, drank beers and cheered in the parking lots following the victory. And police and other law enforcement let them go.

The win gave the team its first division title in nearly 10 years, and fans leaving the stadium chanted “playoffs” and screamed with excitement.

Windel Wyambao, 46, couldn’t contain his joy. The season-ticket holder since 2006 said he’s been through many ups and downs with the team, but feels the Niners and the fans deserve the playoff run.

“When I first bought tickets, they were getting six or nine points a game and I thought I shouldn’t be paying for this,” Wyambao said. “Now it’s time; it’s long deserved.”

Wyambao said he could “smell the playoff tickets” heading to his mailbox in Pittsburg.

Many fans said they were happy the team is returning to the playoffs, but hesitated to say their beloved Niners will win the Super Bowl.

“We have the defense,” said Mannie Diaz, 41, of San Francisco. “We have a good quarterback, not the best quarterback, so we may be able to take [most teams].”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

Sharing the victory

“Everyone wants the 49ers to play a weak team, but we need to play Green Bay to show just how good of a team we really are.”
— Juan Rios, 41, San Francisco

“I’m excited. I’m not sure about [Alex] Smith — he doesn’t have the leadership. But I am excited and thankful to be in the playoffs.”
— Mark Nugent, 31, Hayward

“It’s such a happy feeling. This is huge!”
— Dan Olberg, 51, Hayward

“Before my wife even liked football, she would tell me to go outside and do something useful, say cut the lawn. Now, she watches with me and we can’t wait for the playoffs this season.”
— Carlos Solis, 63, San Jose

“I’m a Niner faithful, and it is about time they make it back to the playoffs. It’s our time. I have and I will support them ’cause they’re my team.”
— Fernando Echeverria, 33, Manteca

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