SUPER BOWL XXIX CHAMPION 1994 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

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?

xxix1Think 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.

sb29First 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.

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

1990’s San Francisco 49ers v. Dallas Cowboys: 49ers Perspective

Former San Francisco 49er Head Coach Bill Walsh referred to the early years of the organization’s coming of age as “Camelot”. After the 1981 Super Bowl championship they would go on to become “Team of the Decade” winning another 3 titles. San Francisco became the NFL’s gold standard in on field achievement and the corporate way they conducted themselves.

Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and John Taylor had taken the West Coast Offense to a record level.

Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and John Taylor had taken the West Coast Offense to a record level.

Their players were revered as Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Ronnie Lott took their place among the league’s greatest ever players. They had been the toast of Presidents as the 80’s drew to a close. In 1989 new Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones traveled to San Francisco to learn from Eddie Debartolo how the league’s model franchise did business. This was nothing new as even former Head Coach Bill Walsh had become a favorite on the corporate motivational speaking circuit.

As the 90’s beckoned, the team was transitioning on the field as Steve Young, Ricky Watters and a new wave of 49ers emerged. It started with a team loss in  the 90 NFC Championship to the New York Giants 15-13 ending their chance at a 3-peat. Gone were 80’s holdovers Montana, Roger Craig, and Lott as the new generation took shape in 1991. Montana from a vicious hit that kept him out of football for two years. The others were released as the team looked to get younger to stay competitive.

They finished 10-6 as Steve Young finished his first season as a passing champion. It took awhile for San Fran to find their footing yet they finished on a 6 game winning streak. By 1992 the Niners hit their stride finishing 14-2 and retooled with Ricky Watters rushing for 1,013 yards to join Young, and Rice in the Pro Bowl. Another passing title moved Young into the elite of the sport yet it came crashing down with a loss to the upstart Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship 30-20.

Steve Young being sacked  during the 1992 NFC Championship Game.

Steve Young being sacked during the 1992 NFC Championship Game.

Yes, those same Dallas Cowboys who had studied the 49er organization some 4 years before. The same Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones who had traded for former 49er Charles Haley to help lead the upstart Cowboys and shift the balance of power. Haley had grown up a 49er and battled T Steve Wallace, G Guy McIntyre, and G Harris Barton for 6 years in practice. His experience and spirit settled the nervous young Cowboys in their ’92 NFC Championship triumph.

Going into the game it was a 50/50 split as to who had the upper hand. What really hurt Steve Young is a now healthy Joe Montana watched from the sideline. As San Fran fell behind in the second half, a growing feeling in the stadium loomed. Would George Seifert put Montana in if the game got away from Young. Even though Young was the NFL’s MVP, he still had the legend looking over his shoulder.

Troy Aikman outplayed him and made several signature throws to Alvin Harper while Young threw 2 4th quarter interceptions. What if Guy McIntyre doesn’t false start on the game’s 3rd play negating Jerry Rice’s 63 yard TD from Young?? It would have changed the complexion of  the game. However Troy Aikman had gone 24 of 34 for 322 yards and 2TDs. Emmitt Smith controlled the clock with 114 yds rushing and 59 yds receiving. They took the measure of San Fran and became the league’s signature team with their Super Bowl XXVII championship.

Going into 1993 the 49ers had traded away Joe Montana making it Young’s team. This added pressure from the fans but their real battle was catching Dallas who was now an established champion. They were brash and played with an in your face bravado that took the 49ers aback. In the locker room following the ’92 Championship, Jimmy Johnson’s boast “How ’bout them Cowboys!?!” reverberated in the CBS cameras & throughout Candlestick Park. It haunted the organization as they set their sights on dethroning the loud, brash Cowboys.

Once they qualified for the NFC Championship rematch in Dallas, it was time to right the ship. Dallas had beat them 26-17 in the regular season to add to their confidence. Then Cowboy coach Jimmy Johnson dropped a bombshell.  He called a Dallas radio station and declared “We will win the game and you can put it in 3 inch headline!” Now they were calling San Fran out and how would they respond??

Called out and humiliated like an after school fight in 6th grade, the 38-21 loss in the ’93 NFC Championship was worse than it looked. Dallas was up 28-7 in the 2nd quarter and was sitting on the ball with 3:27 to go. The defense, which had struggled all year, was completely exposed. The gap was widening and the team needed to make drastic changes if they were going to compete with the younger Cowboys.

Michael Irvin had emerged as one of the best wide outs in the NFL. Emmitt Smith had the last 2 rushing titles and had his 3rd straight 100 yard rushing game against the 49ers. Troy Aikman had yet to throw an interception in 2 NFC Championship games. Alvin Harper was becoming a serious 49er killer as he emerged with the highest yard per catch average in postseason history. Most of it due to huge plays against San Fran.

Carmen Policy and the 49ers brass moved into swift action. Back then the team that lost the conference championship coached the Pro Bowl squad. Free agency had come to the NFL the year before and they used this as a recruiting trip. They signed future Hall of Famers Rickey Jackson, Richard Dent, Deion Sanders off the NFC Pro Bowl squad. Then stole Ken Norton Jr from the Cowboys and DE Charles Mann all fom the ’93 Pro Bowl.

Floyd and Watters celebrate touchdown during their 44-15 demolition of Chicago in the '94 playoffs.

Floyd and Watters celebrate touchdown during their 44-15 demolition of Chicago in the ’94 playoffs.

“If you can come in and give us the defense, we have an offense that can dethrone the Cowboys and get to the Super Bowl.” They also knew they needed a new approach psychologically and embraced a more brash, in your face street tough mentality. Embraced was the outgoing personalities of Ricky Watters, Deion Sanders, and rookie FB William Floyd. Gone was the laced up corporate attitude of the team on the field. This group showed its emotions on the field, celebrated with end zone dancing and Deion highstepping downfield after interceptions. The only thing that made the 49ers recognizable were their helmets. Thanks to the NFL commemorating their 75th season, the Niners elected to play most of the season in their “throwback” uniforms of the 1950s. The 49ers were reborn in 1994.

It worked as the 49ers blew through the regular season 13-3 and scored a team record 505 points. Steve Young was league MVP and Sanders was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. They retooled and had specific match ups ready as they eyed the defending champion Cowboys. They beat them during the season 21-14 to earn the right to homefield advantage for the ’94 NFC Championship. If the Cowboys were going to 3peat, they had to go through the last team that had that same chance just 4 years before.

The vanquished became the victors with their 38-28 defeat of the Dallas Cowboys in the ’94 NFC Championship Game. Super Bowl XXIX was an anticlimactic 49-26 win over the San Diego Chargers. Steve Young liberated himself from the ghost of Joe Montana. For 3 straight years these two teams pushed each other to heights they would not have achieved without each other. However the final shot was fired by the 49ers.

Young and Rice celebrate in Super Bowl XXIX.

Young and Rice celebrate in Super Bowl XXIX.

Jerry Jones had become obsessed with overtaking the 49ers who themselves made practical business decisions. They didn’t match Ricky Watters free agent contract with Philadelphia, which was a mistake, and they had to enter a bidding war for Deion Sanders. In ’94 they signed him to $1.1 million for one year where other teams were offering 4 years $17 million. Coming off a Super Bowl triumph and his 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year it was time to cash in. San Francisco baited jones and he took it and overspent for Deion at a cost of $35 million.

This crippled Dallas who wouldn’t be a player in free agency the rest of the decade. The Cowboys had all their money tied to Aikman, Smith, Irvin, and Sanders. The 49ers had freed themselves of the Dallas stranglehold and would go on to be an elite team the rest of the decade. They just didn’t see a new foe emerging in Mike Holmgren’s Green Bay Packers.

However there was the 1995 season where the 49ers were more in the spirit of the pre ’94 group. At midseason they took on the revenge minded Cowboys in Texas Stadium. The Cowboys were 8-1, healthy and ready to show with Deion Sanders in tow, they had overtaken San Fran. Going into the game they were missing QB Steve Young, FB William Floyd and staggered into the game with a 5-4 record. Perfect timing for the Cowboys to provide the knock out blow. Nobody believed the 49ers had a chance…

After being upset by the Packers in the 1995 NFC Divisional Playoffs 21-17, they began a new rivalry chapter with them. As for Dallas, they did win Super Bowl XXX to make it 4 wins in 4 years between these two organizations. New teams would emerge before the decade concluded. Most notable was Mike Shanahan’s Denver Broncos. Shanahan was San Francisco’s Offensive Coordinator during the heat of the 49er v Cowboys rivalry.

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

 

 

 

 

 

Super Bowl XLVII Preview: Colin Kaepernick – Running In The Shadow of Giants

Kaepernick celebrating with Vernon Davis in the NFC Championship Game.

Kaepernick celebrating with Vernon Davis in the NFC Championship Game.

We’ve made it to the end of the 93rd season of the National Football League and we have an intriguing match-up going into Super Bowl XLVII. Do you realize Colin Kaepernick is about to become the quarterback with the fewest starts to start a Super Bowl?? The fewest starts for a Super Bowl quarterback was 11 by Roger Staubach going into game number VI. Next Sunday will be Colin’s 8th. Much like Staubach, Kaepernick runs the football yet his are more out of design than by a flaw of not reading the defense.

We have a saying around here: “At some point you have to believe what your eyes are showing  you.” Going into the playoffs his statistics were no different than Alex Smith’s and there were two schools of thought. We made the case for not rolling over the plan to start Kaepernick so late in the season for fear it would come back to haunt the Niners in a playoff game if they fell behind. Well staring up at a 17-0 deficit to Atlanta in the NFC Championship a week after being down 7-0 to Green Bay has put an answer to that. He has been cool under fire but at the conclusion of the regular season, Smith had a better completion percentage (70.2%-62.4%) and touchdowns (13-10) with the same 218 attempts on the season. We wrote our countenances down but Kaepernick has performed in the playoffs. There was nothing outside of 49er practices that indicated what we were about to see in the upcoming playoffs. Listening to 49er fans doesn’t count, assess the situation. Facts are facts.

The read -option is one wrinkle the NFL has yet to catch onto.

The read -option is one wrinkle the NFL has yet to catch onto.

However that’s old news as he water-tortured the Packers defense to the tune of 444 yards both rushing and receiving in the divisional round of the playoffs. It was an exhibition of why you can’t just line up in man to man, rush four and allow #7 to break containment accounted for. His 181 yard record-setting rushing performance was a lightning in a bottle situation. What was most impressive was in the NFC Championship he hardly ran at all as he went 16 of 21 for 233 yards and a touchdown. He showed maturity in staying within the game plan which called for him not to run. In fact if you paid attention to the offensive play calling, it was pretty traditional until they got into the red-zone where they would then go to “The Pistol”.

Back in 2001 on ESPN, it was Steve Young who asked “Who would be the genius to come up with the next NFL offensive craze to take advantage of these more mobile quarterbacks?” citing the “West Coast” offense had become passe’. Let’s face facts, there hasn’t been a team running that offense in its normal sense in about 15 years. It never had been an offense of multiple receiver sets or even the shotgun formation. Yet here we are where the quarterback is a part of the running game again. Now it has become 11 v. 11 again and it will be some time before teams catch on how to defend it.  With the emergence of RGIII, Russell Wilson, and Kapernick the NFL has turned a corner with a new offensive style.

With one more win, Roger Staubach will be removed from the record book as the quarterback with the fewest starts to win a Super Bowl. It took Joe Montana 3 years to win his first Super Bowl in 1981, and took Steve Young 5 to win his first. How big will Colin’s legend grow with a win on Sunday as a 49er?? Ironically his rise is more reminiscent of Staubach’s than any 49er quarterback. In 1970 the Cowboys made it to Super Bowl V with Craig Morton the undisputed starter yet came up short. The following year Tom Landry started tinkering with the offense and wanted his mobile young QB to take some game time snaps. First a few plays here and there and then he was made the starter at the mid-season point. Sounds familiar doesn’t it??

San Francisco is hoping for 1 more win with Kapernick.

San Francisco is hoping for 1 more win with Kapernick.

The first thing he has to do is not let the magnitude of the Super Bowl overwhelm him.  He is very cool under pressure and always has been dating back to his days at Nevada. It was there when the bright lights of ESPN where there to follow the #3 ranked Boise St Broncos in their last game to claim a shot at the National Championship game. However it was his #19 Wolfpack that defeated them 34-31 in the best college game of 2010 and a WAC showcase for he and Doug Martin. It was his school’s biggest win in team history. He now has shown to not have the magnitude of the NFL playoffs get to him. Will the pressure get to him for the Super Bowl??

While he hasn’t shown a penchant to let the pressures get to him he has to go through the whole of media week and the two-week spectacle in New Orleans. History says a young player will feel that pressure, and he will be facing future Hall of Famers Ed Reed and Ray Lewis on Sunday. If he can stare down Ray Lewis, who will be playing his last game in the Super Bowl, how big will his legend grow??

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

The new Taylor Blitz Times logo that will sit atop our new website soon. Stay tuned…

Top Ten Quarterbacks Ever!

The position of quarterback is unique in the sports world. No other position commands more respect, need to process information in a more condensed timeframe, or expected to lead his team with his play and demeanor like that of a quarterback. Point guards in basketball call out the plays but the team is defined by their big men and scoring comes from either forward positions or the shooting guard.  Pitchers share pitch calls with the catcher and the relief pitcher finishes a tight game to help the pitcher get a win.  The quarterback has to do all of these things which include last second touchdown drives in a two-minute drill. He doesn’t get to turn the game over to a reliever.  He is easily the central nervous system of the team and without his efforts they’re paralyzed to move the ball or win.

The greatest quarterbacks ever master all of these qualities.  The art of the pre-snap read, then to decipher what the defense is doing in under 2 seconds and where his teammate are going to be, while making the right throw.  All the while 4 to 5 fire-breathing defenders are closing in to do bodily harm.  So what makes the great ones, who stand amidst the masses, and calmly deliver the football?  There are all time quarterbacks who are winners and championship teams whose quarterback went along for the ride. The all time greats willed their team to victory through their play.  Here is my all time list.

  1.  Joe Montana: First 3 time Super Bowl MVP while quarterbacking 4 Super Bowl Champions in San Francisco. Performed the signature play of a dynasty with “The Catch” in the 1981 NFC Championship. Beginning in 1983 as a starting QB he led 10 straight teams to the playoffs (49ers ‘83-’90, Chiefs 93 & 94). Ushered in the West Coast offense as a staple while leading more than 30 4th quarter come from behind drives.  Had 8 3,000 yard seasons including his last.  Although 1989 was statistically his best season, in 11 games in 1987 he threw for his career high of 31 TDs.  The best.

  2. Johnny Unitas: Frank DeFord once said that “All quarterbacks today are descendants of Johnny Unitas.”  The benchmark every quarterback is still be measured by.  Retired with more than 40,000 yards passing, 3 NFL Championships, a 4th with a Super Bowl III loser.  Engineered the first two minute drill in the last minutes of the 1958 NFL Championship.   His leadership, demeanor, throwing style, and playing style molded the next two generations of youngsters with how the game should be played.  Still holds the equivalent of Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak with 47 straight games with a touchdown pass.  I think Unitas feat is greater.  Had 11 seasons with over 2500 yards passing.

  3. Otto Graham and Paul Brown

    Otto Graham: The first quintessential winner who was part of a system (Paul Brown’s) that led Cleveland to 10 straight championship appearances. From 1946-1949 the Cleveland Browns ruled the AAFC winning all for league titles.  Then once merged into the NFL: 1950-1955 the Cleveland Browns were in every championship game winning 3 of them while battling the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Rams.  The first quarterback on a Wheaties Box and Mapo Oatmeal commercials so youngsters could “be like Mike.” Statistics don’t measure the man and what he meant for his football team as a leader.

  4. Brett Favre: Winningest quarterback ever. Embodied the epitome of a gunslinger and was durable. He broke the record of most consecutive starts for a QB in October of 1999 at 114 straight and kept it going until he retired after 2011 with over 290, nearly tripling it. First MVP of the league in 3 consecutive seasons.  He brought the Packer’s franchise out of the doldrums of the NFL and made them winners in Super Bowl XXXI.  Favre threw for a conference record for TD passes with 38 and 39 respectively in 95 and 96. Would go on to throw for the most yards & TDs in history.  A gunslinger from the word go, his first taste of NFL action in 1992, he replaced Don Majkoski and hit Kittrick Taylor with a game winning TD with under a minute to go.  A flair for the dramatic.  Had 1 stretch to begin 1999 where he engineered 4 straight 4th quarter comebacks in successive weeks with under 2 minutes to go.   One of a kind.

  5. Our #4 Brett Favre and #5 Dan Marino

    Dan Marino: A completely transcendent performer with a quick release that burst onto the scene in 1983.  His record breaking year of 1984 was the single greatest passing performance ever.  He shattered the single season record for TDs in a season at 48, blowing by the old record of 36.  He became the first to throw for 5,000 yards in a season.  Also threw for 44TDs in 1986.  His attitude and throwing motion struck fear in defenses for most of his career.   His undermanned Dolphins never won the Super Bowl during his tenure. Went on to throw for 61,000 yards and 420TDs over his career.  His release (on film) was under 9 frames when the typical frame rate for most QBs was 12 – 13.  So when you see film of someone almost sacking him, had they been someone else it would have been. By the way, it was Marino who has the most 4th quarter comebacks at 36 to John Elway’s 34…just so you know.

  6. Tom Brady: A 3-time Super Bowl champion who quarterbacked the Patriots to team of the decade status in the ‘00s.  A technical quarterback with an emotional streak that went from being a serviceable player to one of the best ever. He holds the single season record for TDs at 50, directed the only 16-0 regular season, and still in his prime can achieve another milestone or two.  Entering the latter stages in his career and still writing his history.

  7. Terry Bradshaw: The number one draft pick in 1970 who became the first 4 time Super Bowl winner and MVP of the 13th and 14th editions.  He led the Steelers to 4 championships in 6 years.  Had a rocket arm and was a tough runner early in his career.  Became a more complete quarterback as the Steelers attack took to the air in 1978 with the rules changes.  Played big in big games.  He iced Super Bowl IX with a TD to Larry Brown and had his first 300 yard game in Super Bowl XIII while setting the TD pass record in Super Bowl’s at 4.  Held the Super Bowl record for longest TD (to Stallworth75 yards) and nearly matched it with a game winning TD pass to Stallworth at 73yds in Super Bowl XIV against the Los Angeles Rams.

  8. Roger Staubach: Tremendous quarterback who began as a scrambler, evolved into a true pocket passer and retired as the highest rated quarterback ever in 1979.  Was efficient and led the Cowboys to 8 playoff appearances in 9 years. A fearless leader who brought Dallas from behind 23 times in the final two minutes or in overtime.  Roger the Dodger morphed into Captain Comeback and was one of sport’s biggest icons.

  9. John Elway: The rocket arm quarterback who brashly demanded a trade before he ever played a game.  The heir to Staubach’s comeback mantle by producing 30 wins in the final two minutes or in overtime. Produced some of the most breathtaking drives in playoff history.  Passed for numerous 3,000 yard seasons and won a record 5 conference championships including 2 Super Bowl championships.  Had one of the strongest arms in NFL history and the architect of 34 4th quarter comebacks and many of the breath taking variety.

  10.  Steve Young: Greatest left hander in history.  Replaced Joe Montana and led the NFL in passer rating 4 straight years, made 3 NFC Championships, and won one Super Bowl during that era.  He went on to set a record for passing efficiency in 1994 and led the 49ers to the playoffs 7 straight seasons and 4 berths in the NFC Championship Game.  He was also a fearless and rugged runner.  A weapon that allowed the 49ers to play offense 11 on 11 since teams rarely account for the quarterback.   Saved many drives with his ability to run. 

So who’s your top ten?!?!

Historic Folder

SUPER BOWL XXX CHAMPION 1995 DLLAS COWBOYS.docx