Candlestick Not Worthy of its Farewell Game
December 23, 2013

I'm not a Bay Area sports fan, so excuse me if I don't get all misty-eyed when it comes to the San Francisco 49ers, and the farewell game at Candlestick Park. Even locals will tell you the place is a dump. Giants players will show up for the demolition next year, and will line up to be the one to push the plunger. The stadium is done as a sports venue, but the Niners and Atlanta Falcons tonight gave it a memorable sendoff. Maybe better than it deserves.

The 49ers were a two-touchdown favorite against the Falcons, but almost saw one get away. With just over two minutes to go, Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez caught a two yard pass from Matt Ryan, and with the extra point, the Falcons were down by just three 27-24. Atlanta would recover an on-side kick and were just a few yards from winning the game, or at least forcing overtime. Ryan's pass to Harry Douglas was almost caught at the 11 yard line, but Tramaine Brock got a hand in to tip in the air, NaVorro Bowman looked like he ran around ten people, caught the ball, and it took it 89 yards back the other way for a score, and San Francisco won it 34-24.

It is true, though, that the 'Stick was much better to the Niners than it was to the Giants. Heck, the weather was even better. Tonight's gametime temperature, on Christmas Eve Eve, was around 60 degrees. It's not that warm there in July. Like Mark Twain said, “The coldest winter I ever spent...”, etc. Candlestick opened in 1960, and the Niners started playing there in 1971. No one seems to remember that the 49ers were dismal in the 70s, but in the eighties and beyond, the team has become one of the most successful in all of sports (it pains me to say). The 49ers have won five Super Bowls, and though none of them were played at Candlestick, the 49ers won some big playoff games there. The most remembered play will be what was known as “The Catch”. A Joe Montana to Dwight Clark touchdown in 1982.

I doubt Bowman will be remembered the way Clark has been, but the 69,732 people who were there will remember that final play, even if they say it was made by what's-his-name. The Niners are moving to a new stadium in Santa Clara next year (Levi's Stadium—make your own joke), and it's actually still possible that Candlestick isn't done yet. The Niners win clinches a playoff spot, but they will be a wild card team, and have to play on the road, unless the Niners win next week at Arizona, and the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks lose at home to the St. Louis Rams. That would give the park one more chance to go out the way it deserves—a lousy game on a lousy night in a lousy place. Farewell Candlestick.

The future of the 'Stick: Even when Candlestick Park was new, it was never really loved for a variety of reasons. Candlestick Park sits on Candlestick Point, almost literally in the ocean, and little protection from the elements. I read the plan is to raze the park and build a shopping center and condominiums. Sounds great. Just remember to bundle up in July.

I don't know why: Driving around and doing some Christmas shopping, I picked up the first half on 49ers flagship radio station KNBR. But the broadcasters were not those of the Niners Radio Network (led by play-by-play man Ted Robinson). Instead,we heard the Westwood One national broadcast of Kevin Harlan and Dan Fouts. I like that crew better anyway, but it doesn't make sense. Robinson and company have done many Monday night games before. Weird.

View All Commentaries