Last 49ers game in Candlestick a loss for all of The City 

click to enlarge With the 49ers moving to Santa Clara, it will be sad to see a true original San Francisco team leave The City. - THOMAS MENDOZA/2011 AP FILE PHOTO
  • Thomas Mendoza/2011 AP file photo
  • With the 49ers moving to Santa Clara, it will be sad to see a true original San Francisco team leave The City.

Much of the recent focus on Candlestick Park has been on what is likely the final major sporting event at the stadium, yet Monday is really about the loss of a San Francisco original -- the 49ers.

Beginning next season -- barring something unlikely happening in what appears to be another trip to the playoffs for the 49ers -- the team will play all of its home games at its modern new home in Santa Clara, Levi's Stadium. For all of San Francisco, losing the Niners to the South Bay is a punch to the midsection. They were -- and still are -- a San Francisco original.

The Giants? Moved here from New York. The Warriors? They were in Philadelphia before moving to The City, then to Oakland, and now possibly back to San Francisco.

But the 49ers are San Francisco's team, no one else's, and one that has been a source of pride for The City.

Founded in 1946 as a member of the All-America Football Conference, the Niners played at Kezar Stadium, situated in the heart of The City. Sure, it wasn't an ideal stadium, but it helped the team bond with the community. The Niners, who were the first team in the big four professional sports to be a true Western team, would eventually move into the Stick in 1971, 11 years after the Giants started playing in the venue.

Since joining the NFL in 1950, the 49ers have made 24 playoff appearances (soon to be 25) and have won five of the six Super Bowls in which they have played.

From Frankie Albert to John Brodie to Joe Montana to Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers have a legacy of strong players and teams that had people from Bayview-Hunters Point to North Beach gathering around the radio or TV each Sunday to be part of the glory and drama.

Candlestick eventually grew unsuitable for the Giants, who threatened to move to Florida in the early 1990s before the team was sold and then built what is now AT&T Park, which opened in 2000 and is perhaps the best ballpark in all of Major League Baseball.

The Niners continued to toil at the Stick and were in search of their own jewel of a stadium.

But the team and politicians failed to secure a plan that would have been the centerpiece of an Olympic Games bid and the revitalization of one of The City's poorest neighborhoods. The team announced plans in 2006 to abandon The City for Santa Clara.

That crushed San Franciscans.

Keeping the 49ers in San Francisco was a battle back in the team's formative days. When looking for a new home as the Niners outgrew Kezar, then-team President Lou Spadia promised the widows of Tony and Victor Morabito, who founded the 49ers, that he would keep the team in The City, choosing the Stick over a Peninsula location.

After spending 42 seasons at Candlestick, the Niners are leaving San Francisco for a high-tech, state-of-the-art venue in the heart (and wallets) of Silicon Valley. While the team will say that most of its fan base has migrated to the southern Peninsula and the South Bay, the ones who have stood by the team through thick and thin call San Francisco home.

Sure, it will be a sad day when the Stick is blown to smithereens.

But even more so, Monday will be a dark day for San Francisco when it in all likelihood will be their final game in The City.

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