San Francisco 49ers 38, Miami Dolphins 16 (XIX)
Bill Walsh’s team missed the playoffs the year after they won their first Super Bowl in 1981. The Niners got as far as the NFC title game in 1983. A season later, they embarked on a campaign that saw them win their first six games and finish with a 15-1 record. Bill Walsh and Joe Montana were still at the forefront, as was an emerging star in second-year running back Roger Craig.
Walsh’s squad took care of the Giants and Bears in the playoffs, shutting out the latter in the conference championship game. The foe in Super Bowl XIX at Palo Alto would be Don Shula’s Dolphins, who finished 14-2 while second-year quarterback Dan Marino was earning league MVP honors and setting new NFL passing records. Miami would actually own a 10-7 lead after one quarter.
The Dolphins would be limited to a pair of field goals late in the first half for the remainder of the game. The Niners finished with 537 yards of total offense, while Montana threw for 331 yards and three scores, plus ran for 59 yards and a touchdown. Craig became the first player to score three touchdowns in a Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16 (XXIII)
San Francisco was back in the Super Bowl for the third time in eight years, but it was a rough season throughout. The team actually owned a 6-5 record after 11 weeks and there was a brewing quarterback controversy between Joe Montana and Steve Young.
The Niners embarked on a five-game winning streak, then rested some players to finish 10-6. They picked up where the regulars left off by rolling the Vikings, 34-9, and the Bears, 28-3, on the way with another Super Sunday clash with the Cincinnati Bengals.
This time, the game was in South Florida and the opposition was led by head coach Sam Wyche and the 1988 NFL MVP in quarterback Boomer Esiason. Neither offense scored a touchdown in the first three quarters of the game, and the Bengals’ only trip to the end zone came via a 93-yard kickoff return by Stanford Jennings.
Down 13-6 with 15 minutes to play, Montana wound up throwing TD passes to Jerry Rice (the game’s MVP) and John Taylor. The latter came with 34 seconds to play and capped off an 11-play, 92-yard drive. In what proved to be Bill Walsh’s final game as the team’s head coach, the 49ers sent him out in style.
San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10 (XXIV)
The Niners looked to become the fourth franchise to win back-to-back Super Bowls, but they would try and do it with a new head coach. Defensive mind George Seifert took over for Bill Walsh, and the results were impressive.
Many feel that the 1989 49ers were the best team of the Super Bowl Era to date. They finished 14-2, and their two losses were by a total of five points. They led the NFL in scoring with 442 points and quarterback Joe Montana was the league’s Most Valuable Player.
It was a loaded offense with wide receivers Jerry Rice and John Taylor, running backs Roger Craig and Tom Rathman and tight end Brent Jones. The defense took somewhat of a back seat despite the presence of future Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley.
San Francisco was virtually unstoppable in the playoffs and their 55-10 victory over Denver in Super Bowl XXIV remains the most lopsided result in the series’ history. In three postseason victories, Seifert’s team vanquished the Vikings, Rams, and Broncos by an unimaginable score of 126-26.