End of an Era: Farewell to Candlestick Park
Programming note: Watch Friday’s 49ers press conference with Vic Fangio, Greg Roman and Frank Gore streaming live at 11:55 a.m. right here.
SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are leaving Candlestick Park.
But they’re bringing the wind – albeit a different kind of wind -- with them to Levi’s Stadium.
“It gusts more up there because it’s on the water,” 49ers punter Andy Lee said of Candlestick Park. “But it’s probably more constant here (Levi’s Stadium).”
The most difficult thing for punters and kickers was attempting to judge and predict the swirling winds at Candlestick Park. Kicker Phil Dawson has missed just one field-goal attempt at Candlestick, and that came in the first game of the season.
“He hit it right where he wanted to,” said Lee, who serves as the holder. “It was exactly where I thought he should hit it. And it moved the opposite way the wind was blowing, and there’s nothing you can do about that. “
Lee is having another outstanding season despite playing half of his games at Candlestick, notorious for being especially difficult on right-handed power hitters, kickers and punters.
Lee, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, ranks third in the NFL with a 48.4-yard punting average, and fourth with a 42.2 net average.
“I enjoy a challenge,” Lee said. “It’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed playing here and why I signed the extension to stay here, other than wanting to be at one place a long time and leave a legacy.”
And things might not get a whole lot easier when the 49ers move into their new stadium, which looms near the team’s wind-swept practice field. Lee said he has not been able to get inside Levi’s Stadium to gauge how the open northwest corner impacts the flow of air inside.
At least, Lee figures the wind will be easier to figure out at 49ers home games next season and beyond.
“If it’s predictable, at least you know what it’s going to do,” Lee said. “And being here, we’ll be able to practice in it a little more and that’ll give us an upper hand on our opponents, too.”
The 49ers’ final regular-season game at Candlestick Park takes place Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers have a slim chance of hosting a playoff game, but everyone is preparing as if this will be the final game in the 49ers’ home since 1971.
“I tell most people, ‘It’s horribly windy; it sucks; blah, blah, blah,’” Lee said. “But in the end it’s been a great place. And I’m sure walking off that field . . . there will be a little bit of emotion.”