He's a real player
Kyle Tucker has played plenty of Madden on Xbox but never quite the way he did Saturday.
Tucker, 27, and buddy Mike Taylor, 27, both of Sacramento, played the latest edition of Madden in a front-row seat at Candlestick Park before Saturday's game, thanks to Tucker winning an Xbox-sponsored contest. He also was featured on the stadium video board during the third quarter.
Tucker said he kept his victory quiet because he figured he'd get pressure for the extra seat, even though he already had a deal in place with Taylor, a friend he has watched every game with for nearly 22 years.
Said Tucker: "(Taylor) and I have always agreed that if one of us won this kind of contest, we would take the other."
Faithful won't wait
The parking lots at Candlestick didn't open until 8:30 a.m. Saturday, but longtime fan Art Ventura didn't feel like waiting that long. Ventura, 61, and his wife, Irene, left their Salinas home, five family members in tow, at 5 a.m., the way he has for nearly every game in his longtime run as a season-ticket holder.
The Venturas set up shop around 6 a.m. in the parking lot of an adjacent office complex not only to kick off the festivities early, but also because it provides a little elbow room compared to the packed Candlestick lots.
"I've been coming here since there were more seagulls than people," Ventura said.
Quite a drive
As soon as Paul Bodet knew his beloved Saints would be traveling west to take on the 49ers, he knew he and his wife, Allison, would, too.
The Bodets drove from their home outside New Orleans on fabled Route 66, arrived in Modesto on Friday night, then made the final trek to the stadium early Saturday morning.
As a New Orleans television station was interviewing the couple, 49ers fans swarmed the background and created plenty of noise. "It was bedlam," Bodet said. "I couldn't hear myself think, let alone speak."
That's a rap
James Bailey knows a good team and a good opportunity when he sees one.
The rapper, born and raised in San Francisco, has scored the 49ers' unofficial 2011-12 anthem with "Who's Got It Better" inspired by and featuring a dub of Jim Harbaugh's famous postgame chant. Bailey also penned "Black and Orange," a popular ballpark anthem during the Giants' World Series run in 2010.
"It's just the time and city. We're swinging back artistically and in sports," Bailey said.
Bailey performed the song before the game.
Asked who on the 49ers might make a good lyrical collaborator, he said, "(Michael) Crabtree I think could get in there; Aldon (Smith) could probably get in eight bars or so."
Now that's dedication
First-year security guard and lifelong 49ers fan Nigel Hinton had an interesting way of commemorating this season: He had the 49ers logo tattooed on the inside of his lower lip.
"What shows that you're a diehard fan more than a tattoo on your lower lip?" said Hinton, who turned 30 on Wednesday. "Go big or go home."
John Parker, Special to The Bee