SANTA CLARA With 1:34 remaining in the third quarter of Saturday's 49ers-Raiders game, 49ers safety Donte Whitner looked up from where he was standing on the sideline and pointed to the southwest corner of the stadium.
A second later the attention of every 49er, indeed everyone in Candlestick Park, was trained on that section as four men wildly threw punches at one another. The fight went on for nearly a minute and ended not when police moved in to break it up, but when the men became exhausted from throwing haymakers.
It was one of dozens of fights in the stands and parking lot that evening, and not nearly the most violent. Two men were shot outside the stadium during the game and another was beaten unconscious in an upper level restroom. All three have since been upgraded to fair condition.
The ugliness drew strong reaction Monday from the mayors of both cities and from the NFL, and it sent the 49ers, a team that is trying to build a new stadium in Santa Clara, scrambling to explain what went wrong and how they would fix it.
Team President Jed York on Monday held a press conference at Candlestick Park to announce new security measures, including banning tailgating after kickoffs and the addition of DUI checkpoints around the stadium. York also said he would recommend suspending the annual preseason game between the teams.
"This is a game where you have a rivalry situation and, unfortunately, you have the worst segment from a very small segment of both fan bases that come and brings about this type of event," York said. "It's unfortunate."
No one on Monday not even the players said they'd be especially sorry to see the so-called "Battle of the Bay" go away.
"I never saw anything like that," said running back Frank Gore, who played at the University of Miami and thought that school's rivalry with Florida State was highly charged.
"That's not like what the San Francisco 49ers-Raiders rivalry is," Gore said. "I think some of the fans take it too serious. This is a football game."
Davis resident Dave McAnaney has been going to games for 12 seasons and was at Saturday's game. He said many attendees weren't interested in the game and roved the aisles hoping to make eye contact with a potential combatant.
But McAnaney, 45, described it as only "slightly worse" than a typical 49ers-Raiders game.
"There were definitely more fights than there were in the past," he said. "But the past was no cakewalk, either. There just were no shootings, so it didn't make the news."
Saturday's brutality came nearly six months after Giants fan Bryan Stow, a Santa Cruz paramedic, suffered a skull fracture and brain injuries in a beating after a game at Dodgers Stadium. Two months later, his family sued the Dodgers, claiming they failed to provide adequate security and lighting in the parking lots around the stadium.
Similar questions were raised Monday.
The San Francisco Police Department said its policy was not to comment on the size of its stadium force. But department officials said it was increased 10 percent at the start of the Raiders game and raised again as the game went on. Police said 70 fans were ejected, with more being removed by team security.
Brian Frederick, the executive director of a group called Sports Fans Coalition, said it was absurd that a sports league as rich and powerful as the NFL would allow so much violence at one of its games.
"More than anything, it speaks to a lack of adequate security and adequate preparation by the team," Frederick said. "It's not as though they're hurting for resources fans and taxpayers give them billions of dollars every year."
Those who attended the game said there was a strong police presence initially. But as the game went on and the atmosphere deteriorated, police couldn't keep up.
"It was kind of a snowball effect," said Roseville resident Devin Dupre, 34, who bought two tickets in the lower level. "Once they saw one (fight) happen, it got the adrenaline going and everyone started going at it. I had a guy behind me telling everyone he was going to punch someone just to keep the cops running."
York suggested Monday that the preseason was partly to blame. Many season ticket holders, he said, don't attend those games and their tickets are sold to people who aren't true fans.
But a number of 49ers players admitted to peeking into the stands during games preseason and regular season alike to check on the safety of family members.
"I'm worried all the time," said guard Tony Wragge. "It's something that concerns me, especially the last couple years. It could become an issue, any situation can arise. You just have to be prepared for things like that and know that security's going to do their job as well as I'm supposed to do my job."