Last week in the Super Bowl tourney, we took care of the Bengals play-in game. The final vote was rather overwhelmingly in favor of the 1988 win, and so that game will move on to the semifinals.
This week, though, we're going to see the 49ers' two most lopsided Super Bowl victories square off against each other. In the 1989 season, the 49ers defeated the Denver Broncos by an overwhelming score of 55-10. Just five years later, they stomped on the collective throats of the San Diego Chargers on the way to a 49-26 win.
If you just want to vote, feel free. I'm going to recap the games after the jump. As usual, feel free to reminisce to your heart's content in the comments section.
1989: San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos
Coming off of a Super Bowl victory in 1988, the 49ers suddenly found themselves Walsh-less. Bill Walsh had struggled with the idea of retirement for a number of years, and decided quickly that his third Super Bowl crown would be the end of the road for him as a head coach. Though owner Eddie DeBartolo considered offering the job to Jimmy Johnson, Walsh already had a successor in mind. In that way, control of the team flowed seamlessly from Walsh to defensive coach George Seifert.
The following season was nothing short of spectacular. By avoiding major injuries and, more importantly, staying out of the sticky quarterback controversy of the previous year, the 49ers avoided many of the pitfalls that had made 1988 such a struggle during the regular season.
At this point, as good as Elway and the Broncos were, nobody expected anything but a 49ers victory. Many people had the 49ers winning the game by 14 points. In private, even Bill Walsh admitted that he believed the difference would be greater than that.
And as the game wore on, it became clear just how much of a mismatch it would be. Denver would struggle to generate any kind of pass rush. They would falter in coverage. They would struggle to even move the ball on offense. The 49ers seemed to hold the advantage across the board.
It was clear how the game would proceed from the very start. After taking the opening kickoff, Denver took a quick three and out on their first possession. Then, getting the ball for the first time, the 49ers marched 66 yards downfield, capping the drive with a 20-yard Montana-to-Rice touchdown connection.
Denver responded with a field goal, and, after a solid defensive drive, were actually poised to take the lead. A quick turnover changed all that, and the 49ers simply ran away with the game.
All in all, Montana threw for almost 300 yards, as well as five touchdowns. Jerry Rice racked up almost 150 receiving yards, not to mention three touchdowns of his own. To top it off, Roger Craig and Tom Rathman combined for more than 100 yards on the ground, with three rushing touchdowns.
Meanwhile, John Elway barely eclipsed 100 yards through the air and managed two interceptions to no touchdowns.
The final score of 55-10 remains the most lopsided score in Super Bowl history.
1994: San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers
For the 49ers, 1994 was all about defeating their demons. Since Steve Young had taken Joe Montana's job, the 49ers had missed the playoffs once, and lost to the Cowboys in the playoffs twice. The monkey on Young's back couldn't be bigger, and the object for the season could not be more clear: The 49ers were building a team that could beat the Cowboys in the playoffs.
That attitude led to a free-spending offseason of sorts. Though the 49ers had to say goodbye, in one way or another, to players like Bill Romanowski, Steve Bono, Tom Rathman, Don Griffin, Guy McIntyre, and Ted Washington, in order to open up the salary cap room they needed, they were eventually able to sign every single one of their primary free agent targets. Ken Norton, Jr., Gary Plummer, Ricky Jackson, Bart Oates, and Derrick Deese were all brought in to play key roles in what was becoming a do-or-die season. A Walshian draft, followed by the in-season signing of Deion Sanders ultimately stacked the team with as much talent as they had seen since the ‘80s.
The 13-3 season that followed was the direct result of the offseason efforts to field the most talented team in the entire league.
The 49ers entered the playoffs against the Chicago Bears, and the resulting 44-15 victory was little more than a warm up. The fates were aligned. The Cowboys were coming to town.
But the 49ers would not give Dallas a chance to win a third crucial playoff game against them. Almost before the first quarter had even gotten started, the 49ers had had returned an interception for a touchdown, thrown for a touchdown, and run for a touchdown. Every aspect of their game was in synch, and the Cowboys looked rattled.
Dallas did their best to keep the game close, but it would be to no avail. The closest they got the entire game was within 10 points. After the win, Steve Young ran a victory lap around the stadium. He was - the 49ers were - going to the Super Bowl.
After defeating the Cowboys, many people considered the best game of the playoffs to be over. The two best teams in the league had battled, and the 49ers had come out the victors. It was the unfortunate position of the San Diego Chargers to have to try to prove that perception wrong.
It didn't take long to see which way the game would go. On only the third play of the game, Young found Jerry Rice for a 44-yard touchdown, the fastest in Super Bowl history. They quickly extended that lead on their next drive, and never looked back.
Ultimately, the Chargers just could not cover the 49ers in the secondary, and that was the story of the game. Young, Rice, and Ricky Watters ran wild on San Diego, and the Chargers had no chance of staying with the 49ers in a shootout.
When all was said and done, Young would throw for 325 yards and a massive six touchdowns. Rice would catch nearly 150 of those yards, while pulling in three of those touchdowns. Watters would account for over 100 all-purpose yards and two more of the touchdowns. It really just wasn't fair.
The rout would end 49-26.