What If John Brodie and the 49ers Beat the Cowboys in the Early 1970s?

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What If John Brodie and the 49ers Beat the Cowboys in the Early 1970s?

In 1970, quarterback John Brodie was the NFL's Most Valuable Player and led a highly potent San Francisco 49ers' offense that featured explosive wide receiver Gene Washington who piled up 1,100 yards on 53 receptions.

NFL Coach of the Year Dick Nolan guided San Francisco to a 10-3-1 regular season record and the NFC West crown in 1970.

The 49ers got by the Minnesota Vikings 17-10 in the divisional round to win the franchise's first playoff game and advanced to face the 10-4 Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship on January 3, 1971 at Kezar Stadium.

"John Brodie was a great quarterback at Stanford, he was the man with the golden arm," Dave Newhouse of The Oakland Tribune said in Pure Gold: The Complete History of the San Francisco 49ers. "He just didn't have what Joe Montana had and what Steve Young had, a defense."

Even though Cowboy quarterback Craig Morton completed 7 out of 22 passes for 101 yards, running back Duane Thomas rushed for 143 yards and Dallas converted two third quarter interceptions into 14 points.

After a 3-3 tie at the half, linebacker Lee Roy Jordan's interception led to a 13-yard touchdown run by Thomas.

Dallas would capitalize again when a Mel Renfro interception translated into a Walt Garrison 5-yard touchdown reception.

The 49ers would cut the lead to 7 points with a 26-yard touchdown from Brodie to Dick Witcher, but they were shut out the rest of the game.

In their 11th year of existence, the Dallas Cowboys would win their first NFC Championship with a 17-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. It was also the last 49er home game at Kezar Stadium.

Following a 9-5 regular season in 1971, San Francisco would claim the NFC West title again. After dispatching the Washington Redskins 24-20 in the divisional playoffs, the 49ers would face the Cowboys again in the NFC Championship, this time in Dallas.

But San Francisco's high octane offense would run out of steam on the worst possible day.

But once again, Roger Staubach and the Dallas Cowboys would come away victorious with a 14-3 victory over the 49ers, winning their second consecutive NFC Championship and on to their first Super Bowl victory.

After another NFC West title in 1972, the San Francisco 49ers would fall again to the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs with a 30-28 loss in the divisional playoffs.

Brodie would retire a year later in 1973 after a love-hate relationship with the San Francisco fans.

"People loved him, loved him," Bill Walsh said on Pure Gold. "And hated him because whenever the team would do poorly, it would be John to catch hell from the fans."

"While Brodie was doing very well," Glenn Dickey of the San Francisco Chronicle added on Pure Gold. "But when the offense has to score so much it puts so much pressure on the quarterback as every interception, every missed play is magnified."

The rest of the 1970s would not be kind for the City by the Bay. Over the next five years, the 49ers would go through five head coaches, nine quarterbacks, and one winning record.

Brodie's offenses were capable of scoring from anywhere on the field and won many shootouts against the rest of the NFL but if they had more talent on the defensive side of the ball, this team could have won their first Super Bowl in the early 1970s before Brodie retired.

Now the question is, what if those early-70s teams had the players to complement future Hall of Fame defenders in outside linebacker Dave Wilcox and cornerback Jimmy Johnson?

Easy, they would have beaten the Dallas Cowboys and went on to defeat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V and the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI because San Francisco's offense was a cut above the rest of the NFL during those times.

The San Francisco 49ers should have been 7-0 in the Super Bowl if their successful 70s squads had a championship defense to go along with their loaded offense.

If the 1970 San Francisco 49ers could borrow players from the franchise's All-Time team to win their first Super Bowl championship, who would be sent in this hypothetical time machine?

The following slides are a compilation of the defensive playmakers necessary to get these San Francisco 49ers over the hump as a Super Bowl championship team.

1970 San Francisco 49ers


QB - John Brodie (NFL MVP)
RB - Doug Cunningham
FB - Ken Willard
WR - Gene A. Washington (Pro Bowl)
WR - Dick Witcher
TE - Bob Windsor
LT - Len Rohde (Pro Bowl)
LG - Randy Beisler
C - Forrest Blue
RG -Woody Peoples
RT - Cas Banaszek


LDE - Tommy Hart
LDT - Charlie Krueger
RDT - Roland Lakes
RDE - Bill Belk
LLB - Dave Wilcox (Pro Bowl)
MLB - Frank Nunley
RLB - Skip Vanderbundt
CB - Jimmy Johnson (Pro Bowl)
CB - Bruce Taylor
SS - Mel Phillips
FS - Rosey Taylor


K - Bruce Gossett
P - Steve Spurrier
PR - Bruce Taylor
KR - Bill Tucker

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