SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers have the home-field advantage Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And the organization is taking measures to ensure the 49ers own the home-crowd advantage, too.
The 49ers last week began a campaign to educate fans on the appropriate times to make noise. The team's website opens with the greeting, "Silence is deadly: Quiet on offense," and "Bring the noise: On defense."One of the disadvantages of playing on the road is that the crowds are often adept at making things extremely difficult on the opposition. The 49ers' offense had difficult times communicating blocking assignments based on pre-snap reads against the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving, surrendering nine sacks.In six road games, quarterback Alex Smith has been sacked 26 times.In seven homes games, the 49ers have surrendered just 13 sacks. And that includes six sacks allowed against the Dallas Cowboys, whose fans showed up loudly at Candlestick for the Week 2 game.RELATED: 49ers 2011 schedule & results
"It's definitely a different atmosphere, but after a while you can't look at it as road and home," 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis said. "You just have to play winning football. But one of the advantages of playing at home is you're working without the noise. I totally appreciate the enthusiasm from our fans. That's great. But you like to see it used for disorienting the visiting team."The timeliness -- or lack thereof -- of noise emanating from the crowd at Candlestick Park became an issue when "The Wave" began two weeks ago when the 49ers had the football against the St. Louis Rams.Smith told CSNBayArea.com that sometimes the proper tone is not set for the fans inside Candlestick just before the offense takes the field.
"I kind of wonder if sometimes the stadium doesn't help," Smith said. "We'll be on TV timeouts before an offensive possession, and we got the drums going. But it'll be all right (Monday). I'm sure there'll be some Pittsburgh fans. They go everywhere. There will be some towels out, but hopefully our fans show up. It's a big game -- probably one of the bigger games at the 'Stick in a long time. Two 10-win teams."Season-ticket holder Brandon Phillips, who commutes to 49ers games from Ocean City, Md., said there were at least 50 Steelers fans on his direct flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Steelers fans are likely to be well-represented at the game.But a home game is still a home game for the 49ers.The 49ers encourage their fans to show up early. Jim Mercurio, vice president of stadium operations and security, encourages fans to take public transportation for the 5:30 p.m. kickoff.Also, fans arriving inside the stadium early will be treated to pregame entertainment and half-price on food and soft drinks at permanent concession stands from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Three former American Idol finalists are scheduled perform throughout the evening. Thia Megia, who sang the National Anthem at a 49ers game when she was 10, will perform during the pregame activities. Stefano Langone, a life-long 49ers fan, will sing the National Anthem. And rocker James Durbin of Santa Cruz will turn up the decibels at halftime.