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Fans' Behind-the-scenes Experience in St. Louis

Posted Oct 17, 2014

Thanks to Faithful 49 presented by Esurance, Chris Dickson and his fortunate plus-one were off to the Gateway to the West on the team's charter plane.


Chris Dickson noticed a missed call from the San Francisco 49ers while working at his Walnut Creek office on a Friday afternoon in October. 

The longtime 49ers fan received once-in-a-lifetime news.

Dickson had been randomly selected out of thousands of Faithful 49 members to take a road trip with the team to St. Louis, Mo., for the 49ers “Monday Night Football” matchup against the Rams.  

As part of the newly-launched loyalty program, Faithful 49 presented by Esurance, the 49ers offer rewards and experiences to fans participating in daily activities that most fans do already: browsing content at 49ers.com, attending home games at Levi's® Stadium, or purchasing items at the 49ers Team Stores or online at Shop49ers.com.

In addition to this season's grand prize – the St. Louis road trip sweepstakes – the program offers a myriad of experiences and rewards including game- and practice-worn jerseys, signed memorabilia and chances to bid on auction items like the Kickoff Kid experience, field passes and Red Zone Rally passes.

Fans even used yards to bid on the wooden podium logo used at press conferences at the training facility for the past five seasons. Since the program is run by the team, fans never know what relics will be available next.

Unlike for the Faithful 49 eBay-like auctions, the sweepstakes featured entries that were dropped into a raffle. Thousands of hopeful 49ers Faithful waited to be singled out to win the two-night, three-day trip to “Mound City.” 

“I was in complete shock; I’ve never won anything before,” Dickson said. “I actually forgot I had entered the sweepstakes. My eye was on the Michael Crabtree jersey on the Faithful 49 website but thought it wouldn’t hurt to throw a few entries of my yards into the pot for the road trip.”

And with just eight days’ notice, Dickson and his fortunate plus-one, fiancée Lindsay Burch, were off to the Gateway to the West on the team charter plane. Dickson and Burch met at the SAP Performance Center and received a surprise tour of the grounds before loading buses for the airport.

“My favorite part of the tour was seeing where it all happens: the offices, executive areas and the meeting spaces,” Dickson said.

“I felt like Tinkerbell when ‘The Rhino’ (Alex Boone) walked by me in the lobby - due to his sheer size,” Burch said.

Thanks to an impressive police escort, the six team buses arrived to Mineta San Jose International Airport in a flash and attendees headed directly to the tarmac. Once on the plane, guests were greeted by flight attendants decked in bubble gum-pink uniforms as a nod to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as they offered a wide display of snacks including candy bars, fresh fruit and cheeses.   

Dickson settled into his seat and enjoyed a hot meal, headphones and a movie, as various other guests including team media personnel, trainers, equipment and video staff, and team executives sat close by.

A few hours passed, and it was almost time to land in St. Louis.

Sunday was a free day for the couple, who spent their time checking out Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, who happened to be hosting the San Francisco Giants for Games 1 and 2 of the 2014 National League Championship Series. The duo also stopped by the Gateway Arch monument and ventured up the iconic structure for scenic views of downtown St. Louis. 

Dickson and Burch enjoyed dinner in the team hotel amidst other 49ers players’ families and close friends. Throughout the night, they interacted with the likes of the Kaepernicks. Kap’s uncle took Dickson’s throwback cap and announced that he was going to head up to Kaepernick’s hotel room to get an autograph for the contest winner. He returned shortly with Kaepernick’s signature personalized for Dickson, as promised.

“It was so cool to be around the players and their families,” Burch said. “Everyone was just so nice, friendly and approachable.”

Monday was gameday, and the couple came fully prepared in their 49ers gear from head to toe. Chris donned his newly-penned Kap cap for good luck. “The team won’t win if I don’t wear my favorite Willis jersey and 49ers hat!” he said.

They jumped on the team buses and headed to the Edward Jones Dome, a few miles away in downtown St. Louis.

After a shaky first half, the 49ers gained control and cruised to a convincing win over the St. Louis Rams, 31-17. The victory also notched the 49ers’ 46th win on “Monday Night Football,” the most in the league.  

For the couple, the Rams-49ers matchup is nothing new. Back in 2012, the 49ers were slated to play the Rams at Candlestick Park and a younger Dickson worked up the courage to ask Burch to come over and watch the game at his house in Walnut Creek for their first date.

The 49ers memorably tied the Rams that day in overtime, 24-24. Burch still has the shirt she bought for that initial date.

“At that time, I had no 49ers gear to wear in my closet so I ran out and bought the shirt,” she said. She then pulled the gray shirt out of her purse. “I had to bring it on the road trip for good luck. The 49ers have been a part of our relationship since day one.” 

Dickson was all smiles.

“Second only to getting engaged,” he said. “This experience was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”


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