SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — With the Falcons threatening to take the lead at the end of the last regular season game at Candlestick Park, NaVorro Bowman picked off a broken up pass and sealed a 49ers playoff berth with an 89 yard race to the end zone.

“It was a great finish and a heck of a game, and a great way to close Candlestick,” John Madden told the KCBS Radio morning crew.

“But more importantly, it got the 49ers into the playoffs, and they don’t have to go through the angst of this last week. They still have some of that, but at least now they know they are in the playoffs, and that’s always big.”

Coming in with a 4-10 record, the Falcons almost ruined the Candlestick farewell party. “Are (the Falcons) going to have to settle for three and a tie, or are they going to score a touchdown and win it?

That was kind of my thinking and everyone’s thinking,” John said. “It’s easy to get caught up in the stadium and what the 49ers did. And that was all great. But I think what Atlanta did was pretty good too… The Atlanta Falcons had nothing to play for, but they went out there and played hard and fought. I thought games like that in situations like that in places like this at the end of the season are good for the NFL.”

Among the Falcons who fought hard was veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez, who will most likely retire after the final Atlanta game Sunday. “He’s been a great player for a long time, and a great guy,” John said of the former Cal star. “He’s a real role model for the NFL, and what a pro football player should be and what a person off the field should be.” (7:50)

(Listen to the John Madden segment live weekday mornings at 8:15 on KCBS All News 740 AM/106.9 FM. And catch John’s extra report at 9:15 am Mondays and Fridays on KCBS during the NFL season.)

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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