Why the 1989 San Francisco 49ers Will Always Be My Favorite NFL Team
“Turn this Godforsaken game off; I cannot watch anymore!” screamed my father from the couch. “Damn Broncos, they didn't even stand a chance against Joe and the gang. This is just plain embarrassing!” he continued to yell.
As the ringing in my ears subsided, my mind started racing, thinking my Uncle Joe has something to do with my dad's temper and the Broncos' inability to score.
“Hey Dad, who is Joe and the gang?” I asked ever so cautiously, as there was clearly no need to upset the man more than he already was.
He turned to me, and then slowly back to the TV, where he fixed Jerry Rice with an icy glare.
“Joe and the gang,” he spat, “are a bunch of...well, they are a bunch of incredible, out of this world talented football players. I loathe them so much because no team stands a chance against them; they are just that good. This team is a miracle team, Kristin, and they will never be forgotten.”
With that, the iciness melted away, and I saw the admiration not only in my Dad's eyes, but I heard it in his voice too.
I glanced back at the TV and thought that even Jerry looked relieved at this unexpected change in emotions.
We watched the remainder of that game that day, with the final being San Francisco 55, Denver 10. There goes a Super Bowl victory for John Elway.
I was so intrigued that I watched the celebration of these so-called “miracles” on the field. Looking back now, I would give anything to see a team of that caliber play again.
First, Joe Montana had his greatest season ever, throwing for 3,512 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions, giving him what was then the highest single-season QB rating in NFL history—112.4.
Next there was Steve Young, who definitely was not your typical “backup quarterback.” Young threw for 1,001 yards and had eight touchdowns with only three interceptions in 10 games, racking up a QB rating of 120.8, and giving us a definite indication that he would be elite in his own right.
He later proved that as he went on to break Montana's single-season QB rating mark in 1994 (112.8, since broken twice) and set a career mark that still stands (until Peyton Manning retires, that is).
It is not difficult to see why Joe and Steve had such great success, with targets such as Jerry Rice and John Taylor. That year, Rice and Taylor combined for 142 receptions, 2,560 yards, and 27 touchdowns!
Tight end Brent Jones recorded 40 receptions for 500 yards. Fullback Tom Rathman had the finest season of his career, rushing for 305 yards and catching 73 passes for 616 yards.
Running back Roger Craig surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the third time in his career, with 1,054, and rang up 1,527 total yards to solidify this offense as the best the NFL had ever seen. Craig ran so aggressively, yet somehow always managed to make it look effortless.
What good is a team without a great coach, or, in this situation, coaches?
There was George Seifert, who had won a title the previous year as Bill Walsh's defensive coordinator. He started off the season as a rookie coach and went 14-2; those two losses were by a total of five points.
Then there was Mike Holmgren, in his first year as offensive coordinator, who went on to win a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers.
Not to take away from Sherman Lewis (running backs coach) and Ray Rhodes (defensive backs coach), who both were on their journeys to become future NFL head men.
Basically, to keep a long story short:
Having the No. 1-ranked offense that year—$10.5 million.
Having the No. 3-ranked defense, with Pro Bowlers Ronnie Lott, Don Griffin, and Michael Walter—$8.5 million.
Having not one, but five future NFL Hall of Famers playing and coaching on the same team together—priceless.
This team had it all, and on top of all the talent, they also had class. As Joe “Cool” Montana once said, “Winners, I am convinced, imagine their dreams first. They want it with all their heart and expect it to come true. There is, I believe, no other way to live.”
My dad was right; I had literally witnessed a miracle that cold January day.
The 1989 San Francisco 49ers.
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