Former 49ers receiver Dwight Clark regards Candlestick Park much the same way many people view a member of their family: He’s allowed to say it’s a dump, but you’re not.
The man on the receiving end of “The Catch” that launched a golden era in 49ers history said saying farewell to the Stick following Monday’s game will be bittersweet.
“I hate to see Candlestick go,” he said Wednesday. “And I hate that the 49ers won’t be playing on that field where all the Super Bowls were won, but I definitely understand it. I understand that they’ve got to have a new stadium and it didn’t quite work out to have it there, so they had to find a new location.”
He said not a day goes by when he is not reminded in one way or another of the day he hauled in the game-winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana to beat the Dallas Cowboys 28-27 on Jan. 10, 1982, sending the 49ers to their first Super Bowl appearance, where they beat the Cincinnati Bengals.
Clark, who spent his entire nine-year career in San Francisco, said the team’s return to the playoffs the past few seasons has helped keep those memories fresh in his mind.
“The playoffs are everything that really matters, obviously,” he said. “So being able to watch those games the past few years, you start thinking about all the history that’s been here at the playoffs. So the fact that won’t happen anymore is a little bit of a sad feeling, but things move on and hopefully they can have some great playoff wins down at the new place.”
As the team’s new home in Santa Clara is still being built, Clark will step onto the field one last time Monday to stand in the spot where he caught the ball and talk with ESPN’s Chris Berman, who was on hand covering the historic game in 1982.
There is still a chance, if a lot of things go right, that Candlestick could host one last playoff game, though Clark said “the football gods would have to be crazy to make that happen.”
For now he will hold on to his memories of cutting his arms on the crushed brick infield left by the Giants, charging through the chilly tunnels from the locker room to the field and having the moisture soak up through his shoes.
Just don’t speak ill of the only football stadium he ever called home.