The wait is over.
Both the 49ers and their opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, haven't advanced to a Super Bowl since the turn of the century.
The following slides are the five keys for San Francisco to win the NFC.
The 49ers struggled to recover from slow starts in the regular season. In the last road game they played, they fell behind 21-0 to the Seahawks and never recovered.
Colin Kaepernick might show some jitters and timidness in his first starting role in the playoffs on the road. Atlanta showed it can take advantage of a young quarterback's early-game struggles and ride its crowd's wave, jumping out to a 20-0 halftime lead against Seattle last week.
It's possible Seattle started slow because it was a 1 p.m. ET start time, which of course would be a 10 a.m. start for West Coast teams. The NFL schedule-makers did the 49ers no favors, as the NFC Championship Game will start at 3 p.m. ET, a noon start for San Francisco players.
Fortunately, if the Seattle game is any indication, Atlanta's defense gets more vulnerable as the game progresses, particularly to the pass.
If San Francisco can start fast and go into halftime ahead, or even just behind, it should be in good shape to expose a Falcons defense that allowed 385 passing yards to Russell Wilson on Sunday.
Julio Jones and Roddy White are a handful. They combined for 2,549 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in the regular season.
Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver are a talented trio of corners that helped San Francisco rank fourth in fewest passing yards allowed per game, but they won't be able to shut down Atlanta's best receivers if Matt Ryan has time to throw.
That's why it's essential that the 49ers pressure him.
Seattle wasn't able to sack Ryan once, and he went off for 250 yards and three touchdowns. Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks and Justin Smith must make him uncomfortable.
If not, he may be even more successful throwing the ball against San Francisco than he was against Seattle.
Colin Kaepernick has been superb in nearly every way in his eight career NFL starts.
If there's one thing to complain about, it's his inability to realize when a play is dead, so to speak.
Kaepernick simply doesn't know when to just throw the ball away or take a sack.
To this point, Kaepernick's improvisation has been incredibly valuable. The Packers had no answer for him when plays broke down.
What Kaepernick can't do is throw a bad pick-six like he did against Green Bay. What he can't do is hold on to the ball so long that a defender comes in from his blind side and forces a fumble.
I'm not suggesting that he should stop trying to extend plays; rather, I'm suggesting it would be wise for him to focus on ball security a little more.
Matt Ryan only averaged one turnover per game in the regular season, and the Falcons had a better turnover differential than the 49ers.
If the 49ers can take away this strength of Atlanta and win the turnover battle, they should have no issue leaving the Georgia Dome with a win.
I suspect Atlanta will try to get San Francisco out of its base 3-4 defense and try to spread out the 49ers.
San Francisco anticipated Green Bay would do this last week, and the 49ers decided to feature the nickel package as their base defense.
Sure, the 49ers allowed a few long runs, including an 18-yard touchdown scamper by running back DuJuan Harris, but they chose to trade in some of their elite run defense for an extra defensive back to slow Aaron Rodgers.
It worked well, as Green Bay had only two offensive touchdowns in the first 59 minutes of the game.
Atlanta may not have been a particularly effective running team in the regular season but don't sleep on the combination of Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers.
Just ask the Seahawks, who allowed 162 yards on 24 carries to the duo.
When playing in the 3-4, the 49ers can't expect to effectively cover Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez. And when the Red and Gold go to nickel and dime looks, expect Atlanta to run the ball at them.
If the 49ers struggle to contain the Quizz and Burner in the nickel, they may have to go back to the 3-4, which would give Atlanta's passing game an advantage.
Michael Crabtree is the hottest receiver in the NFL.
In his last six games, No. 15 has 657 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Atlanta's defense will likely devote much of its focus on stopping the read-option. While paying so much attention to San Francisco's backfield, Crabtree should frequently get one-on-one matchups.
Whether matched up with Asante Samuel or Dunta Robinson, Crabtree has the skill set to terrorize them.
Atlanta's strength on defense is against the run. If the Falcons succeed in containing Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick on the ground, it'll be up to Crabtree and Co. to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl.