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Return of the Niners: An epic victory

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Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 5:28 pm

Take a stadium with 70,000 fans, stir in an epic win, and what do you have?


We were there, my son Alex and I, hollering, high-fiving, hugging perfect strangers.

It had been a long time.

Now our beloved Niners had won the biggest game in a decade. Now Alex Smith, embattled quarterback, had found redemption.

Now a Candlestick stadium full of fans was one huge, exuberant family. Grown men and women crying, hugging, slapping hands.

Yelling with animalistic glee.

Candlestick rocked and rolled, probably sent ripples across the Bay.

I go back a ways with the Niners. They trained at Sierra Community College in Rocklin, near my boyhood home, in their glory years. I played tennis a few times at Sierra when Bill Walsh, the genius coach, was on the courts, just a few feet away.

The Niners had such an amazing run, and then such a pathetic stretch of mediocrity.

Jim Harbaugh has changed all that. I rooted for him at Stanford, where Harbaugh's turnaround of the program was nothing short of astonishing.

When he moved up the Peninsula, I had a feeling things would change for the red and gold.

Never dreamed, though, about a scene like Saturday's. A playoff victory over the favored Saints, a back-and-forth finale that will go down as a classic.

The scoreboard read 36-32.

Translation: The Niners are back.

Harbaugh's a dynamo, a coaching machine, a certified miracle worker. Does he sleep? Eat? Bleed?

Give Harbaught the state budget, and we'd be in the black in a month.

The triumph was played out before a multi-generational horde of fans. Many hadn't witnessed a Niner playoff victory, let along a Super Bowl win.

It was good to see a new generation of Niner fans bask in the glow.

For me, being there in person, sharing it with Alex and some wonderful friends from Lodi, was unforgettable.

My throat is still raw from screaming.

This game, the victory, the euphoric aftermath, was like nothing I have ever experienced.

Or will again.