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Sunday, December 4, 2011
Feeling the buzz at Candlestick Park

By Mike Sando

SAN FRANCISCO -- Traffic backups outside Candlestick Park formed earlier than usual on this Sunday morning.

That was my unscientific observation upon arriving four-plus hours before kickoff.

A chance to see the 49ers clinch their first NFC West title since 2002 trumps the matchup itself, even if a few Rams fans from the team's Los Angeles era make their way to the stadium.

Conditions are perfect: temperatures in the 50s, clear skies, little to no wind. Unlike when Arizona visited recently, there are no tarps protecting the field from precipitation. Field markings appear freshly painted.

Cheerleaders and band members are warming up. Stadium personnel wearing yellow jackets are assembling in the stands under the northeast deck. Team officials are setting up in the press box.

No sign of players yet, but it's early.