49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 18, 2011
Cowboys West? Reaction to "split house" at Candlestick

With 4:52 left in Sunday's game and the 49ers hanging onto a three-point lead, the Candlestick crowd erupted in a prolonged chant of, "De-fense! De-fense!" What was odd: The 49ers had the ball at the time. "I was very surprised," said 49ers safety Donte Whitner of the large number of Cowboys fans. "They had their own chants going. It was almost like a split house."

The Cowboys have long held the moniker, "America's Team," and their fans are know for showing up en masse in opposing venues. But even the Cowboys players said they were astonished by just how many - perhaps a third of the stadium was dressed in Cowboys blue - were on hand Sunday.

"That was amazing," Dallas tight end Jason Witten said. "Nine years playing in this organization, I don't know if I've ever been on a road game where the chants are so loud. ... That doesn't happen in this league very often. That was special. I think it helped the players with their mindset."

The 49ers may have known this was coming. Candlestick Park was perhaps only 65 percent full for the team's opener last week against division rival Seattle. This week, the team called for fans to dress in 49ers red for a "Red Out" and sold team gear at a 15 percent discount in the run up to the game.

It's the second time this summer the Candlestick crowd has come under scrutiny
An Aug 21 exhibition game with the Raiders was marred by fights and even shootings outside the stadium, leading to a suspension of the annual meeting between the rivals. After that game, 49ers officials suggested that season ticket holders had put their tickets up for sale and that they had been purchased by people more interested in fighting than watching the game.

After Sunday's game, Jim Harbaugh chose not to react to the lack of home-field advantage. "I thought our crowd was into it," he said. "There obviously was some Cowboys fans here that were loud. That's my only reaction."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones noted the pro-Dallas faction but ended up defending the 49ers and noting that they deserve to have a new stadium built in the area. Jones said that he had a long meeting with Bill Walsh and John McVey before purchasing the Cowboys in 1988 and said that he has "a real affinity for football in the Bay Area. I think it's important that we get a stadium in this city," he said. "It's got great leadership. This ownership group team is outstanding. This (Jed) York is the future of the NFL. He's one of the things you ought to get excited about about the future. He's sharp as a tack."

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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