SAN JOSE, Calif. - In the pre-dawn darkness, on a quiet East San Jose cul-de-sac, a trio of football fans packed up gear and headed out, hoping to witness history at the end of their journey.
"The best thing about this, is that our team is in the championship, for sure," said 49ers super fan Jesse Mendez.
He and his friends are members of "408 Faithful." The fan support group usually has a full pre-game tailgate spread at Levi’s Stadium.
But Friday morning saw them taking everything, including the grill, roughly 400 miles south to SoFi Stadium.
"We call SoFi stadium Levi’s south. So this is our second home. So we’re gonna take it down there, take it over and show them what the niners faithful is all about," said Mendez.
This isn’t their first time tailgating on the road and they’re not alone.
Recording artist E-40 raps about the Niners and is also headed south to support them in Sunday’s clash.
"We doing this for the ‘ye area’ man, you know what I mean? This brings hope, confidence, you know what I mean? Ah, a sense of comfort. This is what it is, sports is everything, you know," he said.
Tailgating has long been a tradition at sporting events. But experts say it provides more than food and memories.
"Fandom has always had sort of a sense of belonging that’s been infused in it. We all wanna feel like we’re part of the teams that we root for. And more importantly, we wanna feel like we affect the outcome," said Dr. Shaun Fletcher, an assistant professor of marketing and sport communication at San Jose State Univ.
Do super fans actually have an impact once it’s kickoff and Niners must defeat a divisional opponent for the third time in one year?
University of New Haven industrial psychologist Dr. Maurice Cayer said it’s possible.
"It gives a boost to the 49ers because it’s almost, not quite, but almost, a home field advantage. And certainly a lot of 49ers fans will be in the stadium," he said.
Added Fletcher: "It takes away that advantage that the rams and their contingency will have. So even if subtle it will have a difference."
Tailgating outside the stadium is one thing, but getting inside is another. And it’ll cost you plenty.
Stub Hub, the ticket resale site, says this playoff game between the Niners and Rams could break records for the price of a ticket, not including the Super Bowl.