The dream of a last hurrah at Candlestick Park is dead. And for that you can blame the Seahawks defense and running back Marshawn Lynch. They were their usual dominant selves at home today in a 23-15 win over the Saints, meaning that the NFC championship game will be played at CenturyLink Field next week featuring the winner of Sunday's 49ers-Panthers game.
This development comes as no surprise to the 49ers, who split the regular-season meeting with their division foes and who have been hoping for an eventual rubber match in Seattle for many weeks now.
"We understand that it's going to come down to going to Seattle and winning," safety Donte Whitner said three weeks ago. "We understand that. No matter what team it is in the NFC, you're going to have to go to Seattle to win, so that's the only thing -- winning football games and then going up there and beating them in their home stadium."
Before the season even began, the 49ers and Seahawks seemed destined to face each other in the NFC Championship game. The 49ers must win tomorrow against the Panthers to make that a reality. Carolina beat the 49ers in Week 10, 10-9, but the 49ers have won all but one game since. Furthermore, there are several key players who will play in tomorrow's game -- Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Eric Reid and Garrett Celek -- who did not finish the contest on Nov. 10. That's likely a big reason why the 49ers are slight favorites heading into the game.
The 49ers will move into their new, 69,000-seat stadium for the upcoming season. The final regular-season game at Candlestick Park was on Dec. 23. If the 49ers and Saints had won this weekend, there would have been one final game at the venerable stadium.
-- Matt Barrows