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The raucous scene inside the 49ers’ locker room after NFC Championship win

Roddy Rich’s “The Box,” playing on repeat. Massive men dancing like kids, running around to get their pictures taken with their position group friends donning NFC Championship paraphernalia. A bag of Starbursts dumped like confetti and doughnuts and cupcakes being erased. John Lynch and Jed York holding court. Swarms upon swarms of reporters, with cameras bandied around and heads on swivels looking for the next scrum.

It was unrestrained, uproarious joy, in perfectly chaotic glory, with the media shoving itself in any gap that appeared.

This was the 49ers’ locker room, celebrating in a way comparable only to the atmosphere after beating the Seattle Seahawks to clinch the NFC West division in Week 17. But where that win in Seattle was fraught with emotions, by a relief to have taken what was theirs to take, Sunday night’s win was purely celebratory.

That’s not to say players weren’t emotional, but it was expressed with a sense of ecstasy, that this idea, dreamt about since childhood — “The Super Bowl” — was no longer some myth. It was, it is, here.

That joy was clear, from Damontre Moore and Dre Greenlaw (and just about every other player) dancing in the middle of a dance circle, to every player around trying to get their hands on the George Halas Trophy.

But it was more appreciative than with a sense of content. It was understanding that the 49ers were quite bad for quite a few years, and knowing that the effort do put those days in the past was a concerted, unified effort.

Jimmie Ward, who’s been counted out and criticized for his inability to stay healthy, has been crucial in turning the secondary into the best in the league. His disposition was about the same as after any of the 49ers’ 13 regular season wins.

“It feels great. It’s bittersweet right now,” Ward said. “I’m happy, my team’s happy, but right now, we still got one more game, so the season is not done yet until we finished that last game… I understand we did something big that we haven’t did in a lot of years but if we’re going to make it this far, I want to win the whole thing, so that’s why I said it’s bittersweet.”

For as discernible as the 49ers’ excitement was, it was not that of a team satisfied. Appreciative, yes. But for all the dancing and posing and Starburst-pouring, there was an understanding: this win won’t be remembered nearly with the same fondness if things go wrong in Miami in two weeks.


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