By Jerrell Richardson
As rewarding as it will be for one team on February 3rd, on the other side will be an equally dejected team and fan base. San Francisco 49er fans have been spoiled in the past, as in the team’s five previous trips to the Super Bowl they have never tasted defeat. There have been some nail biters, but more often than not, when San Francisco takes the field for Super Bowl Sunday, they are the superior team, and after the final whistle, the confetti is falling for the 49ers. As this year’s 49er team gears up for the biggest game of their lives, we take a look back at the rich history they are trying to uphold.
Super Bowl XVI
49ers 26 – Bengals 21
MVP: Joe Montana
In the team’s first every Super Bowl, they raced out to an early 20-0 halftime lead, only to watch Cincinnati battle back. After looking like they had the game in the bag, it turned into an entertaining contest with a late defensive stand by the 49ers needed to seal the win. MVP honors went to none other than (for the first and not last time), Joe Montana. The biggest moment of that season though, came the week before in the NFC Championship. This game involved the most famous play in the history of the franchise, which is known simply as, “The Catch.” Not only was this a spectacular play, but it also propelled San Francisco past their arch rival, the Dallas Cowboys, and although it was not known at the time, it was the start of a decade of dominance.
Super Bowl XIX
49ers 38 – Dolphins 16 (1984)
MVP: Joe Montana
Miami had no shot in this game. They ran into a team that was probably the greatest team in the history of the NFL. The 49ers went 15-1 in the regular season, and their only loss that season was after a missed field goal that should have at least sent the game into overtime. Not only did they blow out a team with that year’s regular season MVP (Dan Marino), but they also set a record for wins in a single season at the time with 19. Since then, this record has been tied by never broken. Despite the making of a classic match up, the contest was a no-contest, with the 49ers cruising to their second Super Bowl victory and Joe Montana’s second Super Bowl MVP.
Super Bowl XXIII
49ers 20 – Bengals 16
MVP: Jerry Rice
In a rematch of the closely contested Super Bowl 7 years earlier, the 49ers and Bengals met again for the sports’ ultimate prize. Despite already having two rings under his belt, Joe Montana cemented his legacy in San Francisco lore, engineering a game winning drive by going 92 yards with about three minutes left in the game, hitting John Taylor for the dramatic touchdown. It was not high-scoring affair, but this was one of the best Super Bowls ever, as it was a closely fought battle that came down to the final seconds. It was also the first time in the history of the Super Bowl that the score was tied (at three) going into the half. Jerry Rice broke Joe Montana’s MVP streak with an 11 catch 215-yard performance.
Super Bowl XXIV
49ers 55 – Broncos 10 (1989)
MVP: Joe Montana
By defeating Denver to win back-to-back Super Bowls, the 49ers nailed down the title as the best team of the decade. Unlike the previous season, they didn’t let it come down to the last minute and trounced their opponent. The 55 points scored was a record, and the margin of victory is also a record. This game is, by far, the most lopsided outcome in a Super Bowl ever, and summed up a two year span of absolute dominance by San Francisco. Joe Montana was again the MVP behind his Super Bowl record 5 touchdowns and 75.9 completion percentage.
Super Bowl XXIX
49ers 49 – Chargers 26
MVP: Steve Young
At the time, the 49ers became the first organization to win five Super Bowls when they beat the San Diego Chargers. This was the game that got the money off the back of Steve Young, who had the pressure of the world on his shoulders after the franchise picked him over the aging Joe Montana. Like their previous Super Bowl, this game was over early, and as indicated by the 18.5 spread on the game, it was no surprise. The 1984 team was the better all around team, but the 1994 version of the 49ers is up there as one of the greatest teams ever assembled. Not only did Young silence his critics, he put on a show. He broke Montana’s record by throwing 6 touchdown passes, and became the first player to be the top rusher and passer in a Super Bowl.
If their history is an indication of how this year’s team will play in the Super Bowl, it means that something special will happen. The entire world will be watching and it’s the chance for a legend to be born. In every single previous appearance either the game itself or one of the players has done something to put them in the record book. The 49ers must be careful not to think that the franchise’s resume will give them any advantage on Sunday. In fact the 49ers past puts them under even more pressure as they don’t want to be the team to put a blemish on a perfect Super Bowl record.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.