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Programming note: Bound for Bay Area

After stops at FedEx Field, MetLife Stadium and University of Phoenix Stadium, the NFC West blog tailgating tour hopes to connect with San Francisco 49ers fans at Candlestick Park.

I'm heading to the Bay Area on Saturday afternoon and will be at The Stick before the parking lots open.

If you're going to the game and plan to be there early, and if you'd like to share in the blog camaraderie, feel free to reach out via my Facebook wall. Maybe we can coordinate a time and place. I'll also be watching the early games involving the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals.

Specific to the game: A 49ers fan named Elliot reached out to say he sees this game against Tampa Bay as the sort of "next-step game" the team hasn't been able to win for roughly a decade. It has that feel to me as well. The 49ers have raised fans' hopes over the years without sustaining those hopes. This isn't a make-or-break game by any measure. Jim Harbaugh is only beginning as head coach. But if the 49ers win to reach 4-1, they will have their best five-game record since 2002, and that will go a long way with 49ers fans such as Elliot.