(By: Daisy Barringer)
First of all, my sincere apologies that you’re reading this several after the 49ers beat the Falcons 34-24. All I can say is that I took saying goodbye to Candlestick Park so seriously that it landed me flat on my back, which is the same position from which I type this on Christmas Day. And not in a good “flat on my back” way, but rather in a “no one wants to be around me because I look and sound like I have tuberculosis" flat on my back kind of way. (Lest you actually thought I was three days late handing in my recap because I was having sex.)
For once though, who cares about me? Because the 49ers are going to the playoffs!!! And their final performance at The ‘Stick was full of everything that makes an amazing football game—white knuckles included.
We got there early, wanting to soak in as much as possible, but we definitely weren’t the only ones with that idea. The parking lot was the most crowded I’ve ever seen it and nary a Falcons fan in sight. Literally, I actually don’t think I saw a single Atlanta fan the entire day. A guy in a Dallas Cowboys jersey yes, but one only looks at people like that and feels sad that his therapy isn’t working in the slightest.
The grills were fired up. Flags were flying in the air. And everyone was in a good mood. Ready for a victory. The sentiment from the fans was “Sure, Candlestick is a dump, but it’s OUR dump. And we’re going to miss it.”
Almost every seat was full at kickoff, something I haven’t seen since I moved back to SF and became a season ticket holder in 2007. It was surprisingly warm for a December night—in fact, I never even put a jacket on over my sequin Santa dress. The only chill in the air was when fans started to realize that maybe we weren’t going to put this one away so easily after all. Maybe we weren’t actually going to put it away at all.
As the fourth quarter came to a close, the Falcons were only down by three points. And then NaVorro Bowman failed to secure the onside kick and all of a sudden the Falcons were less than 35-yards from the end zone with the ball. A field goal ties it. A touchdown wins it. I mean, it was not good. I suddenly realized I’d done a lot of counting my chickens the day before when I rooted for Arizona to beat Seattle at home.
BUT well, you know what happened. Tramaine Brock batted Matt Ryan’s slant pass in the air, NaVorro came down with and the rest the rest is Candlestick history. Harbaugh said Bowman’s pick six “was the best birthday present” he’s ever gotten. “Second only to being born.” I’m sure that made his wife super happy and I hope she returned the tie she got him. Seriously though. It was one of the best plays I’ve had the pleasure of watching live and it was the perfect way for the night to end.
Did I mention: WE’RE GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS?!!!!!
Sure, there were a few things that went down that I’m not thrilled about. I thought Kap had a mediocre game at best and really struggled to find his rhythm. Vernon Davis had an off night and dropped three balls. The defense gave up big plays that lead to Falcon touchdowns. The personal foul call on Whitner was another b.s. call by the refs.
But mostly it was a glorious night in a stadium with history and memories. Sure, some of you won’t miss it, but I will. And I’ll definitely think about how much I miss it while I’m stuck in three hours of traffic coming home from Santa Clara next year. If I ever find a place to park my car.
Of course, there’s a small chance the Niners will play one more game at home, but you don’t think it will happen and neither do I. The Seahawks would have to lose to the Rams at home and the Niners would have to beat Arizona on the road.
The latter we can handle More about that on Friday. The former—well that’s out of our hands.
But for now, as I sit here on Christmas, my dog sleeping on the floor next to me and my sleepytime tea starting to kick in I’m going to close my eyes and soak in the memory of the 49ers helping make Christmas Dreams come true for an entire stadium of Forty-Niners Faithful. A trip to the playoffs. A Monday night we’ll never forget. And a perfect goodbye to Candlestick Park.
Thank you to the 49ers organization, the returning players and coaches, and most of all: this current 49ers team who has turned me into a believer. I can’t wait to see what you guys do in January.
Previously: Daisy Does The Niners