Sport: This is the most legendary 49ers 'man cave' in America

49ers ride a wave of exuberant moves all the way to the Super Bowl

  49ers ride a wave of exuberant moves all the way to the Super Bowl You know your team is going great when its biggest worry going into the Super Bowl is that it might run out of touchdown celebrations. Anyone know a good choreographer? So it is for the 49ers, who surfed, danced, spiked and posed their way to a stunning 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at rockin’-and-rollin’ Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers won the NFC championship Sunday and will take their talents to Miami’s South Beach to play the hyper-dynamic Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.The 49ers don’t plan to change their feel-good M.O. for the Super Bowl.“I gotta plan something good, man,” said wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, the team’s No. 1 dancer.

Darin Gilbertson is the unlikeliest of San Francisco 49ers fans.

Born and raised in Amery, Wis. — a town with just over 2,900 people — he's spent his entire life sandwiched between the Minnesota Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium, and Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field.

His dad was a Vikings fan. His future wife was a Packers fan.

His accent is "Fargo"-thick, and he grills brats on game days.

And yet, he's been repping the red and gold since 1979, when a then-14-year-old Gilbertson attended his first Niners game at Candlestick Park.

"I was visiting my sister in San Mateo. That was Joe Montana's rookie season and I just fell in love with the environment," he says. "'Packers fan' was never even in my vocabulary."

His first piece of memorabilia was a Joe Montana Niners jersey he acquired in 1994.

A decade later, that one piece of 49ers memorabilia had morphed into hundreds.

"We moved into a new house in 2004, and my whole plan was that the basement would eventually be the man cave," he explains. "I did all of the electrical and wood paneling myself, and the whole thing was done in two years."

Today, more than 50 jerseys hang from the ceiling. There's a bar he hand-built with his dad, Duane, as well as a giant 49ers helmet that doubles as a game-day chair. There are 49ers pinball machines and Dwight Clark mannequins, there's a seat from Candlestick park and replica Levi's Stadium signs. There are Joe Montana pillows and Jerry Rice lamps, commemorative plates, signed helmets, and even a shrine to George Kittle and Jimmy Garoppolo (you can see all of it in the slideshow above).

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He has a dog named Niner, both of his kids rep San Francisco, his wife is now a 49ers fan ("I converted her seven years ago"), and before his dad passed, he thinks he had him coming over to the faithful, too.

"My wife is very supportive; she gets a kick out of it," he says. "My friends' wives come over and say to her, 'You really let him do this?' And the same ladies that give my wife a hard time about doing that think it’s pretty cool when they come down there.

"People tell me that picture’s don’t do it justice, but I’m around it every day, so I don’t know."

Gilbertson admits that he has no idea how much he's spent over the years on Niners stuff ("my insurance agent cringes when he comes down there"), but does point out that only 75 percent of his basement is things he's actually bought.

“I’ve got a lot of items from Packer fans even — they see something 49ers at a garage sale or wherever, and they’ll pick it up and see if I’ll like it,” he says. “It accumulated quite quickly, after people knew I was a Niners fan.

"Social media is a great thing sometimes, you know. I've met a lot of fellow faithful, and they’ll even send me stuff — they'll get something at a game, and that goes right up on the wall here."

Real-life Niners fans are harder to come by. Gilbertson said he knows of six in the Milwaukee area, and two of them make the drive to Amery every year to watch one Niners game in his basement.

This year, though, they'll make a second pilgrimage for Super Bowl LIV next Sunday when the 49ers face the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami Gardens, Fla. None of the Packers fans will be in attendance, according to Gilbertson.

"Usually when the Packers and Niners play, I'll do a big party with my Packer friends, but for the NFC Championship, I just said, 'I can’t do it, I don’t want anything messing this up,'" he says with a laugh. "Now with the result of it, though, I wish I had them here."

Grant Marek is the Editorial Director of SFGATE. Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @grant_marek

Related slideshow: Super Bowl LIV quick facts (provided by Tribune News Services)

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NFL world reacts to questionable PI call against George Kittle .
The San Francisco 49ers found themselves tied at 10 late in the second quarter of Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s when Jimmy Garoppolo decided to air it out after throwing an ugly interception earlier in the game. He hit All-Pro tight end George Kittle for a huge gain to seemingly set San Francisco up for a go-ahead field goal or touchdown.Officials on hand at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami had other ideas. They called offensive pass interference on Kittle.You be the judge.No way is this OPI on George Kittle. This jostling happens 15 times a game. Horrible cal pic.twitter.

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