An old Candlestick Park touch has been applied to much-maligned Levi’s Stadium turf as the 49ers host their first home playoff game of the Santa Clara era.
Saturday afternoon’s 1:35 p.m. San Francisco 49ers Divisional Round playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings will be broadcast on NBC with the Sunday Night Football team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth (more like Collins-worthless, ammirite?). The sterile new environs of Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium have never hosted an NFL playoff game, though last year’s College Football Championship played there was an NCAA playoff game. So Levi’s is pulling out some of that old Candlestick magic, as USA Today’s Niners Wire reports that the stadium has applied the old 1980s-style red end zones for the playoffs. We’ve seen the retro saloon font ‘49ers’ in the end zone throughout this year’s regular season, but this “new” version is fully Ray Wersching-era compliant, with red grass, the NFC logo, and hilariously obsolete facemask.
Saloon font and red end zones: A playoff tradition for the 49ers is back and at Levi’s Stadium for the first time https://t.co/Ln8WkiTWNL— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) January 9, 2020
Pull up a bong rip and watch how the grounds crew did this in the delightful time-lapse video below from the official 49ers Twitter account.
Being the No. 1 seed playing the No. 6 seed Vikings, the 49ers are seven-point favorites to win. For those of you with advanced gambling problems, the over-under is 44.5 total points. The “action” at halftime will feature performances from Tone Loc, Young MC, and the Sugar Hill Gang says the Mercury News, so hopefully NBC will broadcast a little bit of that.
Jimmy Garoppolo on his fine for throwing a ball into the Seattle stands:— KNBR (@KNBR) January 7, 2020
“I was pretty accurate on the throw I thought… I was trying to throw to that specific guy and he made a great catch on it.” 😂 pic.twitter.com/GVbQnuSRoi
Tackle-proof tight end George Kittle should figure largely into Jimmy Garoppolo’s first ever playoff start. The Vikings, meanwhile, are quarterbacked by Kirk Cousins. ESPN has a provocative look back on the 2017 Garoppolo trade, which seemed ill-advised when Jimmy tore his ACL and missed most of the 2018 season. But that trade ironically led to Cousins ending up on the Vikings, as he’d been reportedly angling to sign with San Francisco in free agency, with ESPN writing in July 2017 that “Cousins to the 49ers has become something of a fait accompli.”
As you read this, linebacker Kwon Alexander has just been cleared to play again after he tore a pec muscle in that Halloween night scare against the Cardinals. Defensive end Dee Ford is back from a hamstring injury, which ought to reduce the double teaming of Nick Bosa. And exquisitely named safety Jaquiski Tartt returns to the secondary, which will help stack guys up front, because Vikings running back Dalvin Cook dropped a 94-yard, two touchdown performance Sunday against against the Saints (along with three catches for 36 yards).
Dave Ryan Makes Vikings Game Predictions on San Francisco Billboards https://t.co/5I5hSNgiH6— Dave Ryan (@daveryankdwb) January 10, 2020
But enough with analysis! On to the stupid shit! Speaker Nancy Pelosi was going to attend Saturday’s game, but now she’s not, telling reporters she has “responsibilities to save our country from peril this weekend.” Some asshole morning zoo DJ in Minnesota bought digital billboards across town with the 49er-trolling message seen above, a gimmick promoting his station’s frequency number of 101.3. And also from SFGate, we learn that this is the highest-priced playoff ticket of the weekend slate of NFL games on the third-party ticket sales sites, and the highest-average-price 49ers game ever played at Levi’s.
Which means the 49ers’ Santa Clara experiment is finally paying off, not just in terms of cash (which it always did), but in terms of fan engagement and a home field advantage they lost when they left Candlestick. The 49ers’ home games are no longer plagued by empty seats and a glut of visiting fans, though on the flip side, KPIX reminds us this means heightened security and more cops at the game. But the possible return of noise, along with the retro end zone designs, will make Saturday’s game feel like those classic 49ers-Vikings playoff battles of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Which Cris Collins-worthless is sure to remind us many, many times.
Top image: @49ers via Twitter