Niners prepare for last season at the 'Stick 

click to enlarge This season will mark the last go-round for Candlestick Park. - HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Harry How/Getty Images file photo
  • This season will mark the last go-round for Candlestick Park.

The lights will go down on the Stick at the end of the 49ers' season.

But don't expect too many people to shed a tear.

Sure, Candlestick Park has housed some historic events including "The Catch" by Dwight Clark in 1982, the earthquake during the 1989 Bay Bridge World Series between the Giants and A's and the Beatles' last concert in 1966.

But it's been out of date for years and fans are just as likely to remember how many layers of clothing they needed to survive the chilly winds than what happened in the game they just watched.

The final scheduled home game before the Niners move into their new Santa Clara digs in 2014 is a rematch of last year's NFC Championship Game between the Niners and Atlanta Falcons on "Monday Night Football" on Dec. 23.

But if the 49ers have another playoff run in them, the old Stick will hang on a little longer.

SCOUTING THE NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals

Out goes the carousel of quarterbacks and in comes Carson Palmer. While Palmer is hardly Tom Brady, he's a dramatic upgrade over anyone the Cardinals have put under center since Kurt Warner retired. Rashard Mendenhall was added to spice up the running game and new pieces were brought in to fortify a defense that ranked 12th in the NFL last season. Bruce Arians worked wonders taking over as interim Indianapolis Colts coach last year, and he'll look to do the same in his first year in the desert.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks engaged the 49ers in an arms race this offseason, seemingly matching move for move. Seattle's biggest offseason splash was trading for receiver Percy Harvin, but Harvin is likely to miss most of the season after surgery to repair an injured hip. But the Seahawks still have a solid ground game led by Marshawn Lynch, a ferocious defense, an emerging QB in Russell Wilson and arguably the best home-field advantage in sports. They should contend for the division title.

St. Louis Rams

The NFC West had two playoff teams last year, but did either of them have the best division record last year? No. That honor went to the Rams, who went 4-1-1 against their NFC West counterparts. Coach Jeff Fisher has changed the attitude in St. Louis and has them headed in the right direction. When you sprinkle in the infusion of dynamic players such as rookie receiver Tavon Austin and veteran left tackle Jake Long, the Rams could sneak up on people in 2013.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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