NaVorro Bowman punctuated the 49ers' playoff clinching victory with one of the most dramatic plays in Candlestick history.

The old, cold concrete home of the 49ers went out in style Monday night.

The Falcons were looking to take a late lead but Bowman hauled in a deflected pass intended for Harry Douglas and returned it 89 yards for a touchdown and a 34-24 San francisco advantage.

After trailing 10-3 at the half, it looked like the 49ers were going to win comfortably when they took 20-10 and 27-17 leads in the fourth quarter.

But after Tony Gonzalez's touchdown reception with 2:14 remaining cut the Falcons' deficit to 27-24, Atlanta recovered the ensuing onside kick and were in prime position to not only kick a game-tying field goal, but take the lead with a touchdown.

But on 2nd and 1 from the 49ers' 10-yard line, Tramaine Brock broke hard on a short pass intended for Douglas, popped the ball into the air and Bowman was in the right place at the right time.

If the 49ers win their final game against the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks lose to the St. Louis Rams, the 49ers will win the NFC West and be assured a first-round bye and a home playoff game. If the Carolina Panthers also lose to the Falcons, the 49ers would earn home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The 49ers had a lot more difficulty than expected in clinching a playoff spot against the Falcons, who have staggered this season after losing to San Francisco last season in the NFC Championship game.

The 49ers trailed 10-3 in a listless first half that was in stark contrast to the energy in the stands. A pump-up crowd battled the traffic to turn out early to witness the final regular-season game in the 43-year history of Candlestick Park.

The 49ers went against tradition on Monday. Typically, the end zones are painted red only for the playoffs. But the home finale was a playoff game of sorts for the 49ers. After all, they required a win on Monday night to assure themselves a spot in the playoffs.

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan, currently the Falcons’ defensive coordinator, kept quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers’ offense off-balance for the first half.

The 49ers managed only five first downs in the first half, and Kaepernick was held to 6-of-11 passing for 69 yards while also being sacked twice.

But the 49ers got going in the first half with Kaepernick making plays with his arm and his legs. The 49ers wasted little time on the opening drive of the first second half with a six-play, 83-yard drive that featured pass plays of 47 and 19 yards from Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree.

Anquan Boldin scored the tying touchdown when he took a short pass from Kaepernick and squeezed through blocks from Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald to get into the end zone on a 10-yard pass play.