By Jerrell Richardson
Before kickoff, there was no guarantee that the game between the 49ers and Falcons would live up to the pregame hype. On paper the 49ers were by far the better team and with a playoff spot hanging in the balance, it would not have surprised anyone if San Francisco dominated an Atlanta squad counting down the days to the end of a disappointing season. What unfolded though was a dog fight that resulted in one of the most exciting games ever played in an iconic venue. Fans who watched this game were treated to one last play, name and game that will remain in their memories for year to come and will forever live in the team’s record books.
When Frank Gore scored from 1 yard out with just over 5 minutes left in the game it seemed fitting that the last player to score a touchdown at Candlestick was the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. The score put the 49ers up by 10 and appeared to seal the win. Then the wheels fell off. Tony Gonzalez scored a Falcons touchdown a few minutes later and that was followed up by an improbable onside recovery putting the last chapter in the book of Candlestick in danger of ending in a collapse.
Atlanta had the ball down 3 points and was well within field goal range. The 49ers had gone from in complete control of the game to praying for overtime when NaVorro Bowman decided to take matters in his own hands.
How big was NaVorro Bowman’s 89-yard pick six? It was the game winning play in the Candlestick finale and clinched the team a playoff spot. This is further magnified with the winning history of the team and stadium. For a franchise that has grown accustomed to being among the league’s elite it’s only right that in the stadiums last game the home team clinched another spot in the post season where this franchise measures success. It’s this mentalist that will make it so that the postseason will ultimately decide where this play lands on the all-time Candlestick plays list. Regardless of where fans rank the play, there is no question that it is one that will never be forgotten; because it can’t.
The Catch and The Pick
The most famous play in the history of the 49ers is “The Catch”, but could now have some company. Why Bowman’s play is certain to stand the test of time and be as famous as Dwight Clark’s iconic touchdown grab is that on top of how important it was for the team, it was historic. Bowman is the last player to score a touchdown during the regular season at Candlestick, and will eventually be the answer to a Jeopardy question. If nothing else he made sure that it was not an opposing player who was the last one to score 6 at Candlestick. Years from now when someone asks about the 49ers before moving to Santa Clara the first thing that will come up is Candlestick Park and “The Catch”, while the last thing will be NaVorro Bowman and “The Pick”.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.