San Francisco 49ers: 5 Best Playoff Memories in Franchise History

Kyle RobertsContributor IIIJanuary 5, 2012

San Francisco 49ers: 5 Best Playoff Memories in Franchise History

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    For the first time since 2002, the San Francisco 49ers are headed to the NFL playoffs. The 49ers' resurgence has given many fans the opportunity to recall the 49ers' glory days.

    The franchise's rich playoff history hasn't just resulted in five Super Bowl rings; it's also resulted in indelible images and memories.

    Some of the 49ers' best moments cemented the legacies of all-time greats Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice, while others crowned more unlikely heroes. 

    Regardless, all are moments that no football fan (let alone a 49er fan) could ever forget.

5. Steve Young Leads 49ers to Win Super Bowl XXIX

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    Steve Young had done a spectacular job replacing the irreplaceable Joe Montana, winning two NFL MVP awards in his first full three seasons as the 49ers' signal caller. However, critics loved to point out the only thing Young lacked as a starter: a Super Bowl ring.

    Anyone who doubted Young's big-game ability would be proven wrong on January 29, 1995, as he turned in perhaps the greatest performance in Super Bowl history.

    Young passed for 325 yards and a Super Bowl-record six touchdowns, as the 49ers destroyed the San Diego Chargers, 49-26, in Super Bowl XXIX.

    The win was the 49ers' fifth—and to date, last—Super Bowl title. 

4. 2002 Wild Card Weekend: 49ers Overcome 24-Point Deficit to Beat Giants

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    The 49ers' last playoff win may not have been the most significant, but it was the most stunning. 

    Down 38-14 in the third quarter, Jeff Garcia led the Niners to 25 unanswered points, capped off with a Tai Streets touchdown reception with a minute left. 

    However, the Giants marched down the field, setting up a potential game-tying field goal. The 49ers would need a botched snap and a questionable no-call to seal the victory.

    The 24-point comeback was the second largest in NFL playoff history.

3. The Catch II: Steve Young to Terrell Owens

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    Steve Young to Terrell Owens may not be as legendary as Steve Young to Jerry Rice or Joe Montana to Jerry Rice, but they did combine for one unforgettable moment.

    The 49ers trailed the Green Bay Packers 27-23 late during their 1998 Wild Card Game. With just three seconds remaining, Young delivered a perfect strike to Owens, resulting in a 25-yard game winner.

    Steve Young would retire the next year. In many ways, this was the last great memory in a nearly two-decade dynasty.

2. Joe Montana Throws Game-Winning TD Pass to John Taylor in Super Bowl XXIII

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    In a career that featured four rings, the drive that won Super Bowl XXIII will forever be Joe Montana's defining moment.

    With the 49ers trailing the Cincinnati Bengals 16-13 with just over three minutes left, Joe Cool calmly led the Niners on an 11-play, 92-yard drive that secured the Niners' third Super Bowl.

    Jerry Rice would win Super Bowl MVP honors, catching 11 passes for 215 yards. But it would be John Taylor, whose entire career would consist of playing second banana to Rice, that hauled in the 10-yard game winner. 

1. The Catch

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    "The Catch" is one of the few plays in sports that requires almost no explanation. 

    Dwight Clark's NFC Championship winning grab led the Niners to their first Super Bowl, where they would win their first of five titles. 

    Sure, it may be odd that the franchise's greatest playoff moment didn't happen in the Super Bowl. But "The Catch" was the catalyst to one of the greatest periods of success in NFL history.