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Candlestick Park Treated to Proper Finale

Posted Dec 24, 2013

The regular season finale at Candlestick Park was one for the ages.

End of the road. End of an era.

Candlestick Park’s regular season finale on “Monday Night Football” was one for the ages.

If that’s the final game hosted by the San Francisco 49ers, many would be just fine with that.

NaVorro Bowman’s 89-yard interception return for a touchdown finished an entertaining 34-24 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

The fireworks, however, weren’t done at that point.

49ERS 34 - FALCONS 24: 
 Full Highlights | Game Photos

At the game’s conclusion, ESPN’s Chris Berman conducted interviews on the field with 49ers legends: Dwight Clark, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Terrell Owens and Eddie DeBartolo.

DeBartolo, the former owner of the five-time Super Bowl champions, thanked the crowd at The 'Stick and passed down the game ball to his nephew, 49ers CEO Jed York.

The on-field ceremony was followed by a performance from Boyz II Men performing their hits, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” and “End of the Road.”

Soon after, the Candlestick lights symbolically went out during a video tribute to the former members of the 49ers while Journey’s “Lights” played over the stadium speakers.

The stage was ready for a memorable fireworks show.

Players didn’t get to see the postgame celebration, but the in-game explosion by Bowman was good enough.

“It was amazing,” nose tackle Glenn Dorsey said. “The game was a little close for comfort, but the way everything unfolded, it was amazing.”

Dorsey felt like the 49ers were never doubting themselves even after the Falcons recovered an onside kick and marched down to the 10-yard line before Bowman’s first NFL touchdown.

Confidence remained high.

“That’s what we were thinking,” Dorsey said. “We had to stop them. The defense always leads the charge. We hold ourselves to a high standard. We had to set a tone.”

PHOTOS: Farewell Candlestick Celebration

Bowman put the game away and had everyone in awe.

Dorsey, a BCS national champion at LSU, said it was his most memorable game.

“Even when the play was happening I was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m witnessing this,’ the defensive lineman said.

“It was just a surreal play.”

The stadium was loud throughout the game, not just on Bowman’s takeaway.

Colin Kaepernick said as much after leading the 49ers to a win over the Falcons and a postseason berth.

“The fans were amazing tonight,” said Kaepernick, who threw a touchdown and ran for another score. “I think that’s the loudest it’s ever been at Candlestick since I’ve been here. I think they had an impact on the game as well, as far as throwing their (Falcons) offense off and not let them check and audible the way they want to.”

The atmosphere was electric throughout the evening. Fans stayed in their seats long before the start of the game and long after Bowman’s big play.

Players, too, felt the magnitude.

“Still a little emotional,” said tight end Vernon Davis, who had a five-game touchdown streak snapped. “It’s going to be tough to take it all in, but one day at a time. I’m going to miss this place, I’m sure my teammates are as well. But we’re moving onto something new and something better.”

Davis’ long-time teammates elaborated on the legacy the current 49ers will leave behind.

“It was big, especially getting a win in the last game in Candlestick in front of all the fans,” 49ers rushing king Frank Gore said. “They’ve been great fans since I got here in ’05. I’ve been here for the ups and downs… The last three years have been great, been a blessing. I’m happy that we got it turned around. And trying to get back like it was in the past, like when all the other great guys who came through here like the Jerry Rice’s, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Bryant Young, Roger Craig. We’re trying to get to where they were at.”

The former 49ers can take pride in knowing the current team handled business in the final game.

Jim Harbaugh was proud to be a part of it, too.

“I love history,” the 49ers coach began, “I appreciate history as much as anyone, but for the men who were in the arena, it’s about the future. This game was about that, what our destiny was. And, we’re coming face-to-face with our destiny and that’s what the game was about.”

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