49ers

Candlestick struck by two blackouts

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Candlestick struck by two blackouts

SAN FRANCISCO -- A pair of power outages struck Candlestick Park Monday night, causing delays for the 49ers and Steelers in their high-profile, nationally televised game.

The first snafu occurred 20 minutes before the scheduled 5:40 p.m. kickoff; the second hit at approximately 6:42 p.m. local time. In each case the stadium was thrown into total darkness.

According to Pacific Gas & Electric spokesperson Joe Molica, the stadium was the only customer in the area that lost power. He said the cause of the breakdowns was unknown. Later, the 49ers speculated that "offsite transformer problems" may have been the cause.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, asked after the 20-3 win about the scene in the locker room at the time of the first power failure, deadpanned "it was dark," prompting laughter from members of the media.

Following the pregame failure, the stadium returned to darkness with 12:13 remaining in the second quarter and the 49ers holding a 6-0 lead on a pair of David Akers field goals -- each following interceptions of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

RELATED: Blackout at Candlestick -- what they're saying on Twitter

During the delay, suspended Steelers linebacker James Harrison published the following message on his Twitter account of @jharrison9292:

"If I cant play then can't nobody play... Lights out!"

San Francisco team president Jed York published this tweet:

"Electric atmosphere tonight."

Players for both teams remained on the field and active, attempting to stay loose. The game resumed at approximately 6:59 p.m. During the delay, a fan ran on the field before being gang-tackled by security.

The initial power outage happened prior to the start of the highly anticipated inter-conference game and resulted in a 20-minute delay of kickoff. Power was cut at 5:19 p.m. and restored at 5:28.

Game announcer Mike Tirico termed it "an embarrassing night for the 49ers and the city of San Francisco" after the second occurrence.

The 49ers issued this statement late in the first quarter:
We have all resources working to find out what happened. As more information becomes available, we will issue an update. The game was delayed for 20 minutes, starting at 6 p.m. PT.

The team issued another statement at 7:51 p.m.:Right now, we believe the power outage occurred because of a blown transformer. We have all our available personnel working to confirm that. There are more questions than answers; we have asked PG & E to assure us and the NFL that this will not reoccur. We will continue to update you as we learn more.

Both teams were off the field for the first failure, in the locker rooms at the south end of the stadium. Through it all, a color guard stationed on the field as part of the National Anthem remained unflinchingly in place near the 50-yard-line.

Emergency lights brought back some visibility before power to the stadium was fully restored.

It's not the first time that Monday Night Football has dealt with delays due to power, nor the first time the Steelers were involved.

Other recent instances were last season in Week 1 (Ravens vs. Jets) with power failure as the culprit and Week 5 in 2010 (Vikings vs. Jets), due to lightning.

In 2007 the Week 12 contest between the Dolphins and Steelers was interrupted by lightning.

The most memorable interruption of a game at the venerable stadium came in October 1989, when the Lome Prieta earthquake struck moments before Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's.

That led to a 10-day interruption of the Fall Classic, in part to allow engineers to check the stadium's overall structural integrity.

Candlestick Park opened in 1960. The 49ers have played there since 1971.

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

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USATSI

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA – Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon did not win the right to suit up for the 49ers’ first four games. Behind the scenes, he made it his mission to earn a contributing role.

“He really started to get better with his coordination with his feet from the bump-and-run coverage and from playing ‘off.’ There’s always a light that goes on,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And we felt that for a couple weeks from Ahkello. Once he did that, he definitely earned the right to be out there.”

The plan was for Witherspoon to rotate into the action and share time with starters Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. But he played just six snaps on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis before sustaining a concussion. Witherspoon returned to action last week and played 34 of the 49ers’ 74 snaps last week at Washington. He showed enough to coninue getting significant playing time.

“He’s earned the right to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He works his tail off in practice. He’s so deliberate in his approach. Whether it was scout team, whether it was team reps, whether it was walk-through, it didn’t matter.”

Witherspoon, the 49ers’ third-round draft pick at No. 66 overall, had a pedestrian training camp. Taking his lumps in August showed him what he needed to do to get into real games in October.

“I really turned up my focus, my intent every day in practice,” Witherspoon said. “What I did in camp wasn’t good enough to be a starting corner in this league, and that’s what I learned.

“I really focused on being aware of what it takes. That’s something I implemented these last four weeks -- that every day focus and competing on every single ball, and taking the mindset that no ball’s caught on me. I think that’s really helped my game, and helped these coaches trust me, as well.”

Witherspoon expected Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to attack him. But of the 25 plays he was in coverage last week, Witherspoon saw only three passes come his way. He surrendered two receptions for 33 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Just being a rookie, I thought it was going to come, where they were going to be taking that one shot,” Witherspoon said. “I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t happen. Going up against a smart quarterback, I know he saw me out there.

“There were a few times he looked my way in coverage. I wasn’t perfect in coverage, but I think he was looking. And I thought I did a good job.”

Witherspoon (6 foot 3, 195 pounds) is comfortable lining up on either side of the field, which he did during his college career at Colorado. He said he has not put on much weight but he has added more muscle, which has allowed him a better chance to compete physically against bigger NFL receivers.

Witherspoon fully expects to be challenged on Sunday when he is expected to see considerable playing time against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Witherspoon figures Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be paying particularly close attention any time Dez Bryant lines up on his side of the field.

“They’re going to be looking at the ‘rook,’ ” Witherspoon said.

Said Shanahan, “They’re going to try to do that with all our DBs, so I don’t think it even matters who’s out there. They’re going to attack when we’re in single safety, which we are the majority of the time. They’re going to go outside and keep going out there until you stop them.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Kyle Shanahan's full sit-down interview with Matt Maiocco on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

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AP

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.