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The 49ers realize the challenge _ and plan to stick with what got them this far. They have lost the last six meetings with New Orleans.

“I haven’t been to the postseason in my life,” safety Dashon Goldson said. “I won a championship in high school. But other than that, no. … We’ve got a good chance.”

Brees knows playoff experience won’t mean much. New Orleans was set to arrive in San Francisco on Thursday evening, then hold a walk-through practice at Candlestick on Friday.

“I think that can be beneficial at times, your guys are used to playing in big games, they’re used to being in playoff situations, that kind of thing,” Brees said. “But to be honest with you each team is different. I would say San Francisco is a 13-win team just like we’re a 13-win team and we’ve all played in a lot of big games this year and we’ve all had to win down the stretch.”

The 49ers, who won their division to end an eight-year playoff drought, have been planning for New Orleans for a week now. San Francisco took a 24-3 beating in the Big Easy back in August during the teams’ exhibition opener.

“My advice so far is pretty much, when it all comes down to it, it’s still football,” Goodwin said. “You might have a little anxiety that first series. After that, it’s something that you’ve done for plenty of years of your life.”

Akers, the oldest player on the team at 37 and in his 14th year, has the most playoff experience of the bunch after spending his last 12 NFL seasons with the Eagles.

Smith, not about to reflect on his comeback year, and the rest of the first-timers are looking to make their own memorable mark on these playoffs.

“Had a great season up to this point. Got ourselves the bye,” Smith said. “Put ourselves in a good situation. It doesn’t guarantee you anything beyond that, we all understand that. So much of the playoffs is the hot team and the team that’s peaking and continuing to get better here at the end of the season. That’s really our focus, is just to continue to get better.”

Saints coach Sean Payton isn’t counting on an advantage based on past postseason success _ like that title two years ago.

“Our game, it’s three hours long, so it’s going to be 12 to 14 series each, it’s going to be some plays in the kicking game,” Payton said. “Last week the same question was asked before we played Detroit. We’ve got a number of guys who are playing without it. I don’t think it hurts, but it certainly doesn’t entitle you or guarantee anything.”

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AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this story.