The San Francisco 49ers have a chance to pull off the extremely unlikely. With the Seattle Seahawks loss at home to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16, the door has crept open for the 49ers to steal the NFC West from the birds up north. Granted, this is still unlikely, as the Seahawks will be favored over the St. Louis Rams next week — and the 49ers still have to beat the Cardinals in Phoenix. Nevertheless, it is possible, and that matters.
With all of the coverage and hype surrounding the game tonight against the Atlanta Falcons, none of it deviates from the “last (home) game at Candlestick” mantra. This is, of course, a big deal for 49ers fans near and far who have an emotional attachment to the stadium that housed Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, and so many more. With the coming of Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Colin Kaepernick, heck, I’ll even through the latter-day Alex Smith in here, along with, of course, Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman, Justin Smith, and Aldon Smith — and again, so many more — a new day is dawning. A new stadium is dawning, but perhaps not yet. This new age, this new team, this new generation and, hopefully, eventual dynasty (admit it, you’ve compared Jim Harbaugh and his potential glory to Bill Walsh) may not yet move out of the last one’s shadow. Candlestick Park may live on.
Yes, it will take quite a bit more good fortune for the 49ers to earn a bye in the playoffs. But now the Seahawks look vulnerable at home, and there is a chance that Candlestick, against all odds, will live to see another day. Appreciate it now, celebrate its 53 years — and its end — but as we sports fans are excellent at doing, hold on hope.