In the eyes of The Chancellor of Football, this was the best 49er team ever! Think of a mythical game between the 1989 49ers and the 1994 49ers…Who would win?
Think about, if the 89 Niners version of Jerry Rice being covered by the ’94 NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year Deion Sanders, than zone off the rest of the defense to cover Craig, Taylor, Rathman, and Jones? The 94 Niners beat them…why am I talking about this? Well the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX just shouldn’t have been there.
Pittsburgh took them lightly in the AFC Championship and when they realized they were in a game it was too late and lost 17-13. Am I wrong?
Anyway, the 89 49ers didn’t have the LB speed to cover Watters out of the backfield (Romanowski, Keena Turner, Matt Millen or Michael Walter) and had Deion to shut down Rice. Quietly one of the best teams in history, in fact they had to beat one (Cowboys of 1991-1995, 3 Super Bowl wins) just to get there. The Niners lost their mojo, when they let Ricky Watters leave via free agency. Yet for that 1994, give it up to one of the best ever.
If football were a different kind of commercial business, they’d be Microsoft. All the innovations and ideas to stay atop the league should be applauded. The smartest move EVER was what they did after losing the second NFC Championship in a row to Dallas in 1993.
Back then the loser of the Conference Championship game’s coaches would coach the conference’s Pro Bowl team. With free agency being new, how to approach players hadn’t really been an exact science. Having lost Ronnie Lott and other defensive greats over the last few years, the defense didn’t have punch to match their offense, and certainly couldn’t handle Dallas.
What did the 49ers do? They treated the 1993 Pro Bowl as a college recruiting trip… LOL I can still picture George Seifert and Carmen Policy whispering to Ricky Jackson, Richard Dent, Bart Oates, Charles Mann, Ken Norton, and Deion Sanders “Pssst, you know we can beat Dallas and get you a ring if you sign with us…we already have the offense.”
Not only did they get players, they had specific designs for them. Deion Sanders (’94 NFL Defensive player of the year) was to shut down Alvin Harper (all time leading receiver in yards per catch in postseason history) who had lit up the Niners for big plays in the last two conference finals.
First up, Ken Norton Jr.; to take a key cog off the Cowboy defense and had faced Dallas in practice, and he would know their strength and weaknesses and light a fire on that side of the ball. Richard Dent, Charles Mann, and Ricky Jackson were to be pass rushers that would be able to get to Troy Aikman because Artie Smith, Troy Wilson were “tweeners” that got manhandled by Cowboy tackles. Neither Larry Roberts nor Dennis Brown were effective enough.
Bart Oates helped solidify the offensive line and knew how to play the Cowboys stunting tackles having played against them in New York. Throw in a rejuvenated Gary Plummer and this was a team with no holes in it!! I put this team against any in history and struggle to find who they’d lose to.
…and by the way, I did say Deion Sanders for Alvin Harper and not Michael Irvin. How do we know this? Microsoft…I mean the 49ers were great at poker…they didn’t show their hand in the regular season matchup with Dallas in their use of Deion. Yet when they stepped on the field for the NFC Championship game, Deion (speed player) was on Alvin Harper (speed player) and could zone and cover Michael Irvin (The U) who wasn’t that fast. They fooled Aikman into the interception returned for a touchdown on the 3rd play of the game by Eric Davis. You know the 21-0 lead…and the rest.
Most notable was on Dallas 3rd possession Dallas took Harper out of the game! He came back a possession or two later but Deion’s coverage of him not only sapped his confidence and shook up the coaching staff on how to attack San Fran. So decisive was this that you can trace the decline of Alvin Harper’s career from that exact point.
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