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Joe Montana bids farewell to Candlestick Park

  • San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana walks dejected off the field after the 49ers lost to the New Orleans Saints 26-24, Sunday, Nov. 15, 1987 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Tom Riggs)

In 1980, we played a game at Candlestick Park against the New Orleans Saints that turned out to be one of the most famous games in 49ers history. We were down 35-7 at halftime but came back to tie the game and then win, 38-35, in overtime. One of the big plays in the comeback was a pass to Dwight Clark that he took and ran for a 71-yard touchdown. Dwight always tells the story that getting to the end zone on that one was easy because he knew just where to run to lure the Saints' defensive backs into the quagmire.

That game was one of my favorites at Candlestick, but there were so many good ones — too many to remember.

The game against the Cowboys when Dwight caught the touchdown pass that sent us to the Super Bowl, of course, stands out. So does the game against the Cardinals in 1986 when I returned after my back surgery. And anytime we could beat the Rams was a good game.

Candlestick Park Through the Years

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I haven't been back to Candlestick too many times since I retired, but I was there a few years ago down on the field when I noticed how good the field looked, so much better than I remembered it being. When I asked someone about it, they said, "Oh, yeah — a couple of years ago, we raised the field level by three feet." I wish they would have done that about 25 years earlier.

The 49ers will be playing their final game at Candlestick Park on Monday. The occasion has been the topic of conversation for many months, with fans and commentators engaging in wistful reminiscing. It all sounds kind of sad.

I sure don't feel that way. Having the team move to the new stadium in Santa Clara is exciting, and I think it's going to be even better than anybody is expecting once they get to experience the new place. This is going to be a stadium built for football, not a baseball stadium that was transformed into a football stadium.

At Candlestick, people had to sit in seats far from the field, and sometimes in areas that were tucked into places that made watching the games difficult.

Sure, I wish the new stadium were being built in San Francisco, but this is what it is, and I think all of the complaints are going to disappear once people see how great football in this setting is going to be.

People should look at the Giants and the Jets — they play in New Jersey — and some of the other teams that have moved to new stadiums. These projects are very expensive — too expensive in this case to have had the stadium in San Francisco.

It reminds me of when the 49ers moved their training facilities from Redwood City down to Santa Clara in 1988. There was a lot of complaining and concern, but now nobody even talks about that anymore. The same thing will happen with the stadium. People will get accustomed to it.


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