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SANTA CLARA –- The 49ers move into their new home on Sunday, leaving behind 43 years of memories on San Francisco’s Candlestick Point.
The true home opener is slated for Sept. 14, when the 49ers face the Chicago Bears under the lights of Sunday Night Football at Levi’s Stadium.
On Sunday, they hold their soft opening in the exhibition season against the Denver Broncos.
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“It’s an opportunity for us to build our own legacy, make our own dynasty, similar to the Niners in the 80’s and 90’s,” 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “That was the golden era, and we want to bring that back. We want to have that success. I think this team is primed for that. It’s time to step up to the plate.”
The 49ers move into their new facility with three seasons of near-misses to close out Candlestick. The 49ers lost twice in the NFC Championship game and once in the Super Bowl over the past three years.
All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis experienced four non-winning seasons in his first four years after the 49ers selected him in the first round of the 2007 draft. So he experienced plenty of bad times before the 49ers’ recent run of success.
He said it’s big for him to be able to close out Candlestick and be part of the team that opens Levi’s.
“I grew up a Cowboys fan, so when I first got drafted out here, it was a shock,” Willis said. “I never thought in a million years I’d be a 49er. I was that kid, ‘I’d never play for the 49ers.’ Now, it’s what I bleed, red and gold.
“To be able to play in that stadium with all the history, and knowing some of the guys -- I still talk to some of them from time to time -- there was a lot of legacy there. To be able to be a part of that, and putting some good games on that field, and some years up there, I’m really going to miss it.
Willis added, “But I’m going to enjoy this, too. We get a chance to start something new.”