SUPER BOWL XXIX / SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 49, SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 26 : 49ers Live Up to Their Name : Young Unstoppable From the Start, 49-26
The turning point in Super Bowl XXIX came early: San Diego called tails, the coin turned up heads, Steve Young got the football, and one minute and twenty-four seconds later San Francisco was ahead to stay.
The 49ers capped off an NFL season highlighted by throwback uniforms and marred by questionable officiating with a good old-fashioned thrashing. In instant replay, the 49-26 victory over the Chargers in the first all-California Super Bowl before 74,107 in Joe Robbie Stadium was all too predictable.
“Let’s be real,” 49er cornerback Deion Sanders said. “We knew we were going to kick their butts, but we just couldn’t say it.”
It was 14-0 before the five-minute mark, 42-10 before the end of the third quarter and the 49ers didn’t even wait for the two-minute warning before dousing Coach George Seifert.
“The real Super Bowl was (two weeks ago) against Dallas, it sure was,” Sanders said. “We just beat the hell out of this team.”
The 49ers became the first team to win five Super Bowls, extended the NFC’s postseason domination to 11 years and averaged 43.6 points in their three playoff games.
“To score that many points in the postseason--we’ve made our mark,” Young said. “It will be debated in bars and restaurants around the country on whether the 49ers are the best ever, but we’d like to believe that we’ve put together a string that might never be matched.”
Young, the left-handed triggerman in one of the most explosive offenses in NFL history, received jersey No. 8 when traded to the 49ers to back up Joe Montana, and the joke in San Francisco in recent years was Young wasn’t half the quarterback of the legendary No. 16.
Young not only validated his performance as the league’s best player this season against the Chargers, but broke Montana’s Super Bowl record with six touchdown passes and was the unanimous choice as the game’s most valuable player.
“The critics and the skeptics continue to backpedal,” said Young, who completed 24 of 36 passes for 325 yards and was the game’s leading rusher with 49 yards in five carries. “I had to backpedal pretty fast because they still had this game to fall back on. Now I feel like we faced every possible scenario and now we’re champions.”
The Chargers offered Young no threat in their first Super Bowl appearance, and they were so far out of it by the fourth quarter they found themselves playing against quarterbacks Elvis Grbac and Bill Musgrave.
“We stunk it up,” said Charger running back Natrone Means, who was limited to 33 yards in 13 carries. “It was easily the longest 60 minutes of my life.”
The 49ers accepted the opening kickoff, advanced it to their 26 and then received 15 free yards compliments of a 15-yard facemask penalty on linebacker Doug Miller. The Chargers maintained their “Dumb and Dumber” routine by allowing wide receiver Jerry Rice, the most prolific touchdown scorer in NFL history, to run free between the safeties for a 44-yard scoring reception.
It took 1:24 for the 49ers to score--the quickest touchdown strike in Super Bowl history.
“It was the right play at the right time,” said Rice, who set three Super Bowl records on the play. “All I had to do was run a good route. We wanted to make a statement and let everybody know we have a great team and a great organization.”
Rice, who required an IV before the game for a sinus condition and a pain-killing injection later for a slight shoulder separation, caught 10 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns. Rice now has Super Bowl records for most touchdowns (seven), most points (42) and most receiving yards (512). He also has the postseason record for most 100-yard receiving games (six).
“This Super Bowl is really special because of Steve Young,” Rice said. “I really wanted Steve to come out and play well today. He deserves everything he is getting right now. Before those final seconds ticked off we just kept hugging each other and I told him, ‘Hey man, I love you. You deserve this. Enjoy it because you will never forget it.’ ”
San Francisco took a 14-0 lead 4:55 into the first quarter after running back Ricky Watters brushed aside safeties Darren Carrington and Stanley Richard to complete a 51-yard scoring pass from Young.
Carrington and Richard, proving it was no fluke, had been beaten earlier by Rice on the 49ers’ first score.
“Our goal is to really not give up the touchdown pass,” Richard said. “But we gave up so many today--I can’t even remember how many.”
After Young’s long touchdown throws to Rice and Watters, there were four more:
--The five-yard touchdown shot across the middle in the second quarter to rookie running back William Floyd.
--The eight-yard flat pass to Watters, who was left uncovered in the second quarter on a blitz.
--The 15-yard scoring pass to Rice in front of Richard in the third quarter to establish the 49ers’ largest lead at 42-10.
--And the seven-yard strike to Rice 1:11 into the fourth quarter to close the 49ers’ scoring.
“To throw six touchdown passes, to get to the big game, to play what you believe is your best game ever,” Young said, “you couldn’t ask for more.”
The Chargers, the largest underdogs in Super Bowl history, enjoyed momentary game-plan success in the first quarter and ran 7:21 off the clock on a 13-play, 78-yard hike in response to the 49ers’ 14-0 lead. Means’ one-yard dive closed the gap to 14-7 and made him at age 22 the youngest player in Super Bowl history to score.
But while the 49ers went on to score 14 more points, the Chargers could muster only a 31-yard John Carney field goal before halftime.
Beyond kidnaping the 49ers’ offense, the Chargers were at a loss to make sufficient halftime adjustments. The first time San Francisco had the ball in the third quarter, Young took the 49ers 62 yards in eight plays, finishing with Watters’ nine-yard touchdown run. And they scored again on their next possession, going 67 yards in 10 plays with the dynamic duo of Young and Rice hooking up for a 42-10 lead.
San Diego’s Andre Coleman returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to tie Miami’s Fulton Walker for the longest return in Super Bowl history, but fans who had paid a listed $200 a ticket already were making for the exits.
“It’s a big embarrassment,” Charger defensive end Leslie O’Neal said. “You can say that we’re happy to get to this point and all of that other stuff, but we finally got here and we got blown out. It was kind of like a training camp game; we just made a lot of stupid mistakes.”
The 49ers, correct in almost every way in improving themselves during the off-season, now will have to concern themselves with losing offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan, possibly to the Broncos, and defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes, possibly to the Rams. Watters becomes an unrestricted free agent, and Sanders will make himself available to the highest bidder.
But no matter, Sunday was a time to celebrate.
“I can’t tell you how wonderful I feel,” said linebacker Ken Norton, who left Dallas to sign with San Francisco and now has three Super Bowl rings. “I’ve got five fingers, so why stop at three?”
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A look at Steve Young’s six touchdown passes in Super Bowl XXIX: First Quarter
* 44 yards to Jerry Rice, 1:24.
San Francisco 7, San Diego 0. * 51 yards to Ricky Watters, 4:55.
San Francisco 14, San Diego 0. Second Quarter
* Five yards to William Floyd, 1:58.
San Francisco 21, San Diego 7. * Eight yards to Watters, 10:16.
San Francisco 28, San Diego 7. Third Quarter
* 15 yards to Rice, 11:42.
San Francisco 42, San Diego 10. Fourth Quarter
* Seven yards to Rice, 1:11.
San Francisco 49, San Diego 18.