The Golden State Warriors are your 2016-2017 NBA champions following dominating romp through the playoffs. The Warriors set a record for consecutive playoff wins, and came one game short of putting together the first 16-game undefeated NBA playoff run. All in all, it was as dominant a performance as we might ever see in the NBA playoffs.
Naturally there is plenty of discussion to be had and comparisons to be made. Over at SB Nation, Harry Lyles wrote about how the NFL will never have a team like the Warriors due to the salary cap, the viciousness of the game, and the lack of multi-game playoff series. The New England Patriots might have gotten the nod if they had finished off their undefeated season with a Super Bowl, but it’s difficult to make the comparison.
Earlier today, Pro Football Talk posed a couple questions. One was which NFL postseason appearance was the most dominant. The other was when has the preseason NFL favorite been the wire-to-wire best team and eventual champion.
That got me thinking about the 1989 San Francisco 49ers. They were coming off a win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 23, and head coach Bill Walsh had retired following the victory. George Seifert took over, and the 49ers proceeded to put together a 14-2 season. I’d recommend given howtheyscored’s 1989 recap a read. The 49ers won three straight road games to open the season. They lost in Week 4 at home to the Los Angeles Rams, but followed that with winning streaks of six and five games to finished 14-2.
The 49ers had a first round bye in the playoffs, and when they returned to action, they thoroughly dominated every step of the way. They beat the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round by a final score of 41-13. They beat the Los Angeles Rams in the conference championship by a final score of 30-3. They capped it off with a 55-10 beating of the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl 24. That remains the biggest beating in Super Bowl history.
Back to PFT’s questions, I think the postseason run was as dominant as any we have ever seen. And when you add in the biggest Super Bowl victory in NFL history, it’s an easy argument. As to the other question about wire-to-wire champion, I can’t say for sure. I was ten years old when that season started, and I don’t recall who was viewed as the favorite. The 49ers lost Walsh and some notable players, but they had a strong coach in Seifert to replace Walsh, and for most of the retiring players (Dwayne Board, John Franks, Randy Cross, Riki Ellison) the 49ers had already found their replacements.
Does anybody a little older than me recall if the 49ers were the preseason favorite that year? They won the Super Bowl the previous year, but had not been a dominant team that season. In hindsight it is no surprise to see them take that next big step forward, but I can’t say for sure what the feeling was at the time. Anybody want to chime in?