As the fourth quarter started, the San Francisco 49ers had taken what looked like a commanding 20-10 lead over the Atlanta Falcons as Colin Kaepernick had just scored on a four yard touchdown run. But along the way, the Falcons, a team who had woefully underachieved for most of the season, showed some heart and fight and scored on two possessions, and with 2:14 left, were down 27-24 and ready to attempt an onsides kick.
On the subsequent onsides kick, a funny thing happened, Jason Snelling recovered the onsides kick as the ball some how, some way, got past All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman. To rewind back, Bowman had been having a very good game up until this surreal play. Bowman had 11 total tackles during the game, nine of which were solo. Alongside fellow middle linebacker Patrick Willis, Bowman was all over the field, making tackles, putting pressure on Matt Ryan, and doing a good job of covering Tony Gonzalez out in the middle of the field. Yet for a few minutes, it appeared that Bowman would see his efforts wasted away from not having fielded the onsides kick.
With the Falcons looking at a 2nd-and-1 from the 49ers’ 10 yard line and poised to take over the lead after an improbable series of events, Ryan dropped back to pass and threw a pass out in the flat to Harry Douglas. Along the way, Tramaine Brock jumped the pass route and fought to jar the ball loose out of the hands of Douglas, and as it seemed like the ball would fall to the ground for an incompletion, Bowman swooped in and picked the ball out of the air and proceeded to take it back for an 89 yard interception return for the touchdown that sealed the game.
In the 43 years that the 49ers called Candlestick Park home, there were a number of incredible games and finishes, a fair share of which went in the favor of the home team. On Monday night, in what very likely looks like the final game at the stadium, the 49ers were on the winning side of a game that had an incredible ending at Candlestick. The 34-24 win sees the 49ers clinch a playoff spot and leave the door open for 49ers fans to possibly enjoy a playoff game at Candlestick Park like they have been able to enjoy several times in the past three decades.