TAMPA -- "It truly is an end of an era," said Eddie DeBartolo Jr., who will be among the 49ers luminaries on hand for next week's goodbye to Candlestick Park. The former 49ers owner said he will serve as honorary captain for the Monday Night Football game against the Atlanta Falcons.
DeBartolo, who lives 12 miles from the Buccaneers stadium in Tampa, hasn't always been an adoring fan of the stadium, which will be razed after this season. He once referred to it as a "pig sty." And he said one of his most lasting memories came in 1977 - the 49ers were one of the worst teams in the NFL at the time - when a fan clocked him in the head with a full can of beer.
"It almost knocked me out," he said with a laugh. "That probably sticks out in my mind more than anything."
But he said Monday's farewell will be an emotional one. He, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig and Dwight Clark will be part of the ceremony. "In a different way, I left a lot of my heart and my blood, sweat and tears on that field, too," DeBartolo said. "And I think it's fitting that we're all there."
DeBartolo spoke on a range of topics before today's game, including:
* Jim Harbaugh's contract. The coach and DeBartolo's nephew, Jed York, will try to work out an extension after this season. "They get ... wound really tight," DeBartolo said of NFL coaches. "And there is a certain amount of time when you get a burn out." But he said he thinks Harbaugh and York will come to an agreement. He said he and York "talked yesterday, and I think they're well on their way to getting it done."
* The 49ers' chances this year. DeBartolo said he expects San Francisco to go to its second straight Super Bowl. "They are by far the best team in football," he said. "Seattle is great and they've had trouble in Seattle. But (the 49ers) have players back, the offensive line's coming back, the receivers. (Colin) Kaepernick's got confidence. It reminds me of our teams. It reminds me of '88, '89."
* Charles Haley's hall-of-fame chances. DeBartolo said he's sure the former 49ers pass rusher will get in this year. In fact, Haley asked DeBartolo to induct him
DeBartolo said he hasn't seen the 49ers' new stadium. But he said he's certain it will be so innovative that it will make Jerry Jones' stadium outside of Dallas "look obsolete." The 49ers will play their first game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara next season. DeBartolo said he figures to get an invitation to help open it.
Said DeBartolo: "We've suffered with Candlestick for a long time."
- Matt Barrows