UNITED STATES—It’s been ten years since that narrow Super Bowl XLVII defeat against the Ravens and three years since the Chiefs defeated the 49ers in Miami, but both must feel like a long while ago now.
In between, we suffered five seasons not making the postseason matches, a run that brought back memories of those seven years between 2003 and 2010 when the 49ers never troubled the big boys. This year, the Rams of all teams ended any lingering Super Bowl hopes, a team Jimmy Ward to Sports Illustrated he had no time for ahead of the current season.
The 2022/23 season is almost upon us, and Kyle Shanahan will be hoping to do the double over the Rams in the regular season, but hold his nerve if the two meet in the postseason matches. The odds are not with the 49ers; despite being on the fringes of the favorites for Super Bowl LVII in the current Ladbrokes betting odds, they are behind the Rams, joint-third favorites with the Chiefs. That points to an exciting season ahead for San Francisco football fans, but is it one that can bring success?
Success is something football fans in the Bay Area have certainly enjoyed in the past; the 49ers were one of the best teams in the eighties and maintained a great record of making the playoffs and the showcase event each season. Between 1981 and 1994, they made the Super Bowl five times, winning each time, and only failed to get into the playoffs twice, in 1982 and 1991. It was a time of unprecedented success that brought so much joy to the area.
Which moments were the best? Ahead of the 2022/23 season, we thought we’d pick three seminal moments in 49ers’ history for you to enjoy again.
We all catch something every day; a bus, a cold, even a movie, but imagine not just making a catch, but making THE catch. In 1981, the 49ers faced Dallas in the NFC Championship game, with a place in the Super Bowl at stake. The Cowboys led 27-21, and with 58 seconds left, they faced a third-and-three at the Cowboys’ six-yard line. Montana cam away, rocking to his back foot as he searched for the pass to take them to the showcase event. He dropped back and launched a pass into Dwight Clark, who caught the ball for THE catch. Candlestick Park erupted with 51 seconds left, and the game moved to 28-27, paving the way for that first-ever Super Bowl win.
Super Bowl XVI
The 49ers’ period of dominance sprouted in 1979 with the drafting of Joe Montana, but it arrived for the world to see in the snowy setting of Pontiac, Michigan. It was the first cold weather climate to be selected to host the event, and a traffic jam going into the game didn’t help. Coach Bill Walsh played Kenny Loggins ‘This Is It’ almost incessantly before the game, and it was ‘it’. The 49ers were irresistible, ploughing into a 20-0 halftime lead. The Bengals, a footnote in proceedings, fought back bravely, going 20-14 at one point, but the 49ers hung on, with two field goals from Ray Wersching, taking his total to four in the game.
Montana is widely regarded as one of the best quarterbacks on the big stage, a man for all occasions, and in 1988 that was underlined. Coach Bill Walsh was taking his final game, and in a touch of irony, the opposition was the Bengals, the same opponent who had been beaten in the first Super Bowl the 49ers won. The Bengals led 16-13 with just under four minutes left, with a drive starting at their eight-yard line. It seemed impossible, but Montana led an 11-play, 92-yard drive that ended with John Taylor’s touchdown. The play for the final moment was the last Bill Walsh called in an iconic career.