SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — As far as 49ers receiver Kyle Williams is concerned, there’s only one way for his team to bid farewell to Candlestick Park this season.
“You’ve got go out right. You’ve got to win,” Williams said Saturday after the team’s annual Fan Fest. “There’s been so many great teams – not just good – great teams, dynasties that have been through here. You’ve got to make sure you honor that.”
The 49ers are considered an early favorite to return to the Super Bowl, and capturing the franchise’s sixth Lombardi Trophy would add the ultimate final chapter to Candlestick’s storied history.
Next season, the 49ers move into brand new Levi’s Stadium, located next to the team’s training complex in nearby Santa Clara. It will be pristine, hip and high-tech – everything that Candlestick isn’t.
The stadium opened in 1960 for the San Francisco Giants baseball team, and the 49ers moved there from Kezar Stadium in 1971. The facilities are outdated and the fan experience includes long bathroom lines and traffic jams that make leaving games a headache.
But Candlestick was the center of the NFL in the 1980s, when the 49ers won four Super Bowls in a nine-year span.
To longtime fans, there’s a bare-bones charm to the `Stick that will be missing in 2014. Twins Stan and Tony Montalbo have owned season tickets since the team arrived from Kezar.
From their lower-reserve seats in Section 4, they watched Dwight Clark make “The Catch” in the 1981 NFC championship game against Dallas that sent the Niners to their first Super Bowl.
“Sad, not happy,” Stan Montalbo said of his feelings about the team leaving. “I’m looking forward to the new (stadium). The accommodations will be better. But it’s sad leaving the old championship place. Five Super Bowl rings here, you know?”
It’s all a matter of perspective.
Phong Nguyen, a 34-year-old fan who lives in San Jose, can’t wait for the team to move into its new stadium.
“I have a lot of memories here, but it’s time to get a new stadium that’s a lot nicer to watch a game in,” said Nguyen, who’s been attending games at Candlestick since he was a baby. “It’s inconvenient. It’s tough to get into the bathrooms, and you’re going to the bathroom in a trough. Even getting out of the stadium after a game is terrible.”
There’s another reason Nguyen, who has season tickets for Levi’s Stadium, eagerly awaits the move. He works at Cisco Systems, just a stone’s throw from the new venue.
“For weekday games, I can just walk right down the street.”
The 49ers held their only public practice of training camp during Saturday’s Fan Fest at Candlestick, with a crowd of 10,536 on hand. The sun was shining, but the howling wind – a Candlestick trademark – made fielding punts as tricky as ever.
Williams, in his fifth season with the 49ers, said the subpar facilities have never dominated his thoughts.
“It’s home to me, and I’m sure it’s home to every 49er fan that’s out there,” Williams said. “I don’t’ know about the state-of-the-art stuff. I’m sure the new stadium will be awesome. But right now, this is home, and we’re going to make sure and send it out the right way.”
NOTES: RB Kendall Hunter, who’d been sidelined since last November with a torn Achilles tendon, was activated from the physically unable to perform list and participated in his first full practice Saturday. He doesn’t know if he’ll see action in any preseason games, but he’ll attempt to fend off LaMichael James and regain his job as Frank Gore’s main backup. . Hunter said he’s in daily contact with WR Michael Crabtree, who’s rehabbing from a torn Achilles himself and will be sidelined until at least November. “It’s just good to have somebody who’s been through that,” Hunter said. “He’s seen me get back on the field, and it’ll motivate him to work even harder.” . CB Tarell Brown and LT Joe Staley remained in Santa Clara to receive treatment for injuries. Brown’s injury is a new development, but Harbaugh said he didn’t think it was serious. Fellow CB Tramaine Brock also was on the sidelines for much of practice, and Nnamdi Asomugha assumed first-team duties in Brown’s absence. . The 49ers treated fans to what Harbaugh considered the sloppiest practice of camp, with lots of fumbles and miscommunication. “It was a raggedy practice offensively,” he said.
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