SANTA CLARA Business is picking up at Levi’s Stadium. At least in terms of 49ers wins and fan interest.
“We are kind of building something here and I think the fans sense that excitement,” left tackle Joe Staley said.
As Levi’s Stadium’s fourth season closes up Sunday against the playoff-bound Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4), the 49ers (4-10) are coming off their No. 1 shining moment in their $1.3 billion venue.
A 25-23, comeback win over the Tennessee Titans ran the 49ers’ win streak to three games and reassured hope of a promising future with coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The 49ers have won two straight home game, after winning only nine of their previous 29 games at Levi’s Stadium. Here is how they all rank – leading up to this past Sunday’s crown jewel:
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Oct. 18, 2015: vs. Ravens, 25-20
Storyline: This “Super Bowl rematch” featured two reeling franchises, and the 49ers didn’t snap their four-game losing streak until Eric Reid knocked down Joe Flacco’s final pass to the end zone. Colin Kaepernick (340 yards, two touchdowns) and Phil Dawson (four field goals) helped topple the Ravens (1-5).
Quote: “We’re a 2-4 football team than needs to get some more wins.” – Colin Kaepernick
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Nov. 8, 2015: vs. Falcons, 17-16
Storyline: With Colin Kaepernick benched for the first time in 54 games, Blaine Gabbert won his starting debut by producing two touchdown passes after halftime for the last-place 49ers (3-6).
Quote: “Gabbert was our starter today, and I don’t have a comment past that. OK? We got a win today.” – Coach Jim Tomsula
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Jan. 3, 2016: vs. Rams, 19-16
Storyline: Two hours after winning their overtime finale and dropping two spots in the draft order to No. 7 overall, the 49ers fired Jim Tomsula as coach. They went out winners on Phil Dawson’s field goal with 3:27 remaining in OT, shortly after Dontae Johnson blocked the Rams’ attempt at a game-winning field goal.
Quote: “Jimmy has been a valuable member of the 49ers organization for the last nine years. We all know he is a man of high character, and his contributions on the field and in our community have always been greatly appreciated.” – Jed York upon relieving Tomsula of his duties.
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Nov. 23, 2014: vs. Washington, 17-13
Storyline: Colin Kaepernick produced a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that culminated in a Carlos Hyde scoring run off a zone-read handoff. It gave the 49ers (7-4) a three-game win streak heading into a doomsday, Thankgsiving loss to Seattle four days later.
Quote: “The team takes the ball the length of the field and scores the game-winning touchdown. That’s big-time stuff, a good team doing what it has to do to win. It’s never going to be perfect.” – Jim Harbaugh
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Dec. 28, 1014: vs. Cardinals, 20-17
Storyline: This was more of a wake than a thrilling victory, as fans bid farwell to Jim Harbaugh (and so many others). In snapping a four-game losing streak, Harbaugh went out with his black sweatshirt drenched by a Gatorade shower and with a football in his hands from safety Craig Dahl’s late interception. Frank Gore went over the 1,000-yard mark in his 49ers finale, and Colin Kaepernick’s third-quarter touchdown pass to Bruce Miller capped the scoring.
Quote: “Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions. We thank Jim for bringing a tremendous competitive nature and a great passion for the game to the 49ers. He and his staff restored a winning culture that has been the standard for our franchise throughout its history. Their commitment and hard work resulted in a period of success that should be looked back on proudly by our organization and our fans.” – CEO Jed York, in a post-game statement
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Sept. 14, 2015: vs. Vikings, 20-3
Storyline: After the 49ers’ offseason exodus, Jim Tomsula opened his one-year tenure as coach with a prime-time win keyed by defense and Carlos Hyde (168 rushing yards, two touchdowns).
Quote: “It showed we blocked out all those distractions and came together as a group. There’s a bond in the locker room, and that group believes in each other. That’s all you need.” – Hyde
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Sept. 28, 2014: vs. Eagles, 26-21
Storyline: The 49ers’ first win at Levi’s Stadium came after they rallied from a 21-13 halftime deficit against Chip Kelly’s Eagles. It snapped a two-game losing streak, evened their record at 2-2 and was sparked by staunch defense and running back Frank Gore.
Quote: “Good to see our team play really good in the second half. That kind of flipped the script a little bit.” – Coach Jim Harbaugh
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Oct. 5, 2014: vs. Chiefs, 22-17
Storyline: Alex Smith’s return was spoiled by the 49ers fourth-quarter comeback, which was highlighted by Brandon Lloyd’s acrobatic catch, Phil Dawson’s field goals (five overall), Craig Dahl’s fake punt and Perrish Cox’s late interception.
Quote: “Oh my goodness, it was awesome. It was like the best catch I’ve ever seen. It seemed like he was up there for four seconds. It was unbelievable.” Left tackle Joe Staley, on Brandon Lloyd’s 29-yard reception on the go-ahead drive.
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Sept. 12, 2016: vs. Rams, 28-0
Storyline: Coach Chip Kelly opened his one-and-done tenure with a shutout win amid the crowd’s chants of “Beat L.A.!” on “Monday Night Football.” Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid knelt during the national anthem as that protest was in its infancy.
Quote: “We went out expecting the Rams to play better than they did and to get the ball into their playmakers’ hands. We ran to the ball and we did everything we were supposed to do.” – Linebacker NaVorro Bowman
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Nov. 12, 2017: vs. Giants, 31-21
Storyline: An 0-9 start came to an exhilarating end as coach Kyle Shanahan got doused with water both on the field and in a raucous, locker-room celebration. C.J. Beathard’s best outing included an 83-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin, who played mere hours after his son died from pregnancy complications.
Quote: “Didn’t know it would take this long, but it was special with the guys and I’m real happy for them.” Shanahan
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Dec. 17, 2017: vs. Titans, 25-23
Storyline: Robbie Gould’s 45-yard field goal as time expired gave the 49ers their third straight comeback win, all under quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who made his first home start and passed for 381 yards against the playoff-contending Titans.
Quote: “He’s been just as good as advertised, if not better. I’ve really enjoyed working with him, and I’ve enjoyed game day with him.” Coach Kyle Shanahan, on Garoppolo.