'Happy to be back': 49ers fans return to Levi's Stadium for 1st full capacity preseason game

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- The 49er Faithful returned home to Santa Clara Saturday for the first home game at Levi's Stadium in about 500 days. While the excitement is off the charts, there are new health and safety rules inside.

It's homecoming like no other. The Faithful are back.

"We got here at 4 a.m.," said Ruben Gonzalez.

Gonzalez from San Jose was so excited, he showed up 13 hours before Saturday's 49ers game.

"Last night, I couldn't sleep, so crazy. We're out here with friends and family, showing the love," said Gonzalez.

That love's been missing for a long time. Saturday's preseason match up versus the Chiefs is the first Niner home game at Levi's before fans in about 500 days. The NFC championship game against the Packers in January 2020 was the last time a full capacity crowd was allowed inside.

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"Coming to the game is like getting back to normal, it's been a weird year and a half," said Michael Whited, Jr. from Suisun City.

But with COVID cases on the rise, there are new rules for Niner fans.

"As it relates to the stadium, there's only one rule.., put your mask on inside, even you disagree you're going to have to wear it," said Levi's Stadium Executive VP and GM Jim Mercurio.

There are no capacity limits inside and no proof of vaccination is required.

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"I'm feeling happy to be back, I'm vaccinated and not worried, I'll wear a mask in the stadium," said Niner fan Donna Whited.

The classic tailgate pre-party tradition was back in full swing, burgers and veggies on the grill. Ruben has a message to keep his Niner Gang happy and healthy.

"If you're sick stay home, if not come out and do it with the big 408," said Gonzalez.

49ers staff said 68,500 tickets were sold for Saturday's game.

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