ATLANTA -- Garrison Hearst enjoyed this 49ers' visit to Atlanta much better than their last playoff appearance, in which Hearst sustained a broken ankle in a January 1999 divisional game that the 49ers lost 20-18.

Hearst wasn't thinking of that career-changing injury amid the 49ers' celebration after Sunday's 28-24 win over the Falcons.

"It was years ago, and now we won," Hearst said. "I was on the sideline (before the game) and felt I needed to hit somebody because I was so nervous."

Hearst rehabilitated for two season before winning the 2001 AP Comeback Player of the Year award. Having retired after the 2004 season, he watched Sunday's game from Eddie DeBartolo's suite with fellow former 49ers Charles Haley and Bryant Young, who both served as honorary captains with DeBartolo.

San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst twists his ankle on the first play of their playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome
San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst twists his ankle on the first play of their playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Saturday Jan. 9, 1999. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke) ( ED REINKE )

Hearst wasn't initially planning on attending the Super Bowl, stating he'll likely stay home in Atlanta with his wife and four children, "but my heart will be there."

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.



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