The Stop: The 1981 San Francisco 49ers Iconic Defensive Play

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The Stop: The 1981 San Francisco 49ers Iconic Defensive Play

In Super Bowl XVI on Jan. 24, 1982, San Francisco 49er Dan Bunz made the most famous goal-line tackle in Super Bowl history.

Bunz grew up in Roseville, California and played collegiate ball at Cal State Long Beach before being drafted in the first round by the 49ers in 1978. He also played for the Detroit Lions during an eight year career lasting from 1978 to 1985.

As a linebacker for the 49ers, Dan Bunz was a solid tackler, a smart football player and experienced losing seasons before San Francisco turned it around in 1981 with an NFL-best record of 13-3. The previous year, the upstart 49ers had gone 6-10.

The former 1978 first round pick would made a pivotal tackle at the end of the third quarter in Super Bowl XVI that would come to define his career.

On a critical 3rd-and-goal from the one yard line, quarterback Kenny Anderson threw a swing pass to Charles Alexander in the right flat, but out of nowhere, Bunz came in aggressively, grabbed him around the waist, used his momentum then hurled him backwards before he could break the plane of the goal line.

Fullback Pete Johnson was then stopped on fourth-and goal by the 49ers' stingy defense, preserving their first championship with a 26-21 victory at the Pontiac Silverdome.

It would forever be immortalized as "The Stop."

Although Bunz's tackle was a key moment in the 1981 San Francisco 49ers title run, his contribution to their first Lombardi Trophy was never elevated to exalted status like "The Catch" which happened two weeks earlier in the NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys.

"I really felt good when Steve Sabol sent me a film of that goal-line stand, " Bunz said in a Jan. 26, 2003 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. "He gave me a lot of credit."

"I enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity to be one of the few guys on the 49ers when they were 2-14 and then when they won."

Dan Bunz and "The Stop" no doubt deserve more credit for the San Francisco 49ers' first Super Bowl championship.

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