SAN JOSE -- More than 70 sandwiches from Bertucelli's La Villa Gourmet Delicatessen will be snatched up with glee by the 49ers on Friday morning as they head off to Charlotte, N.C.

It's become a road-trip ritual for a team that likely will play its postseason entirely away from Candlestick Park, in hopes of reaching Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.

On getaway days, the butcher-paper-wrapped sandwiches are treated like gold when distributed to players' lockers by Bubba Ventrone, the 49ers' special-teams ace and their conduit to the Willow Glen eatery.

Secondary coach Ed Donatell turned Ventrone onto La Villa, but only after defensive-line coach Jim Tomsula found out about it (his mouth agape at his first visit), and that came after other sports celebrities flocked to it, such as former 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia and Sharks star Joe Thornton (and all the Sharks, really).

The sandwich of choice is Chris's Combo (aka Chris' Special), an off-the-menu item with unspecified ingredients that basically consists of warmed up deli meat (turkey, ham, Italian meat) with cheese on a freshly baked roll.

Earlier this week, Chris Bertucelli had Ventrone text him a ballpark figure for Friday's order, so that enough bread could be baked ahead of the 49ers' sendoff. Ventrone's response: "It's gonna be more than last time. Probably about 25 to 30 for the coaches and 45 to 50 for the players."

The coaches' needed their fix so bad on Christmas Eve — while they broke down film of their Dec. 23 win over Atlanta — that Donatell pleaded with Bertucelli to open up the deli and make 30 sandwiches.

Good thing Bertucelli is a 49ers fan. The deli is located some 10 miles south of the 49ers headquarters and two miles from downtown San Jose. It opened in 1947, and it was bought in 1988 by Chris' parents, Dave and Patty. Chris helps run things with his sister, Trisha Hollywood.

But vacation plans had the deli otherwise closed for the two weeks leading up to the 49ers' past two games, and the team managed to survive without their road-trip sandwiches.

When the 49ers' season-long habit began with an exhibition trip to Kansas City, Chris Bertucelli gladly headed over to the team's Santa Clara complex even though he was on crutches with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Since then, the 49ers have become virtually addicted to La Villa's eats. Frank Gore stopped by and ordered up seven sandwiches. Guard Joe Looney came in and devoured three on the spot. In November, Marcus Lattimore gave his review to his 100,000 Twitter followers: "Easily best food in San Jose @lavilladeliwg."

Punter Andy Lee calls Chris's Combo the best sandwich in America. For perspective, Lee went to the University of Pittsburgh and feasted on Primanti Brothers sandwiches. Lee thinks the oregano sprinkled onto the mayonnaise is a difference maker for La Villa.

When the 49ers lost 29-3 at Seattle, there were rumblings in the locker room whether the 49ers should resume their La Villa routine. That's when Gore's leadership took over, and as Chris Bertucelli hears it, Gore demanded that the sandwiches continue coming along for their ride into the postseason.

Three weeks ago, Ventrone ordered up 52 sandwiches for their victorious trip to Tampa.

Next stop: Carolina, for Sunday's divisional playoff game against the Panthers.

For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.