In the 2004 season opener at San Francisco, Atlanta achieved something it hadn’t done in 13 years. The Falcons made the long trek out to the West Coast and defeated the 49ers at then-named 3Com Park (but otherwise known to most fans as Candlestick Park).
The offensive stars were led by RB Warrick Dunn and TE Alge Crumpler and the defense came up with some big plays at the most crucial times.
After starting slowly by failing to record a first down on their first two possessions of the game, the Birds started to soar. Atlanta mounted an eight play, 76-yard drive for the game’s initial score. A key play in the drive was a 16-yard gain on an end-around by WR Peerless Price on a fourth-and-two at the San Francisco 39 yard line.
Crumpler culminated the drive by hauling in a 15-yard touchdown pass.
On the Falcons' next scoring march, Price would also play a key role. He caught two passes for 41 yards with his second reception covering 20-yards down to the 49ers 2-yard line. Dunn followed suit with a 2-yard dash to put the Birds up 14-0 in the second quarter.
The Falcons defense then came up a game-changing play by forcing 49ers starting QB Tim Rattay from the contest in the second quarter on a big hit. In trotted second-year QB Ken Dorsey, who guided the Niners to a pair of field goals to cut it to 14-6 in the third stanza. But then Dorsey injured his shoulder and had to leave the game as Rattay returned.
San Francisco drove to the Atlanta 3-yard line to start the fourth quarter and faced a third-and-goal. But Atlanta CB Aaron Beasley picked off a Rattay pass and ran it back 85 yards for the fourth longest interception return in team history. Dunn punched it with a 9-yard rush for his second score of the afternoon to provide a seemingly comfortable 21-6 cushion with six minutes remaining.
But the 49ers rallied.
Rattay threw two touchdowns in the final nine minutes, including a 16-yard toss to TE Eric Johnson with 44 seconds remaining to pull close at 21-19. San Francisco selected to go for two points and try to tie the game. But newly signed veteran DT Rod Coleman, playing in his first Falcons game, reached up and batted down a pass attempt, to end the 49ers chances and the Birds hung on for the close win.
Monday Night’s affair marks the 38th and final trip to Candlestick Park for the Falcons and it’s also the last regular season game ever played at the historic stadium. A new Levi’s Stadium will open in Santa Clara, CA in 2014. Candlestick is a stadium that the Falcons have played at the second-most times ever on the road in its history (to only the Superdome in New Orleans).