In January 1994 Dallas defeated San Francisco 38–21 in the NFC championship game.
“That loss catapulted us to the next year, our championship year,” recalled quarterback Steve Young. “We could not deal with that loss. It was too devastating. No one talked about it at all. To this day we haven’t dealt with it, and it’s probably a good thing. In some strange way, we accepted it.”
In 1994 San Francisco rolled to an NFL-best 13–3 record. William Floyd was the Rookie of the Year, Ricky Watters was an All-Pro running back. They brought in some major stars: Ken Norton Jr. from Dallas, Rickey Jackson, Gary Plummer, free agents Richard Dent and Toi Cook, and of course the great “Neon Deion” Sanders.
At mid-season, the 49ers beat Dallas 21–14, propelling a 10-game winning streak, playoff victories over Chicago and Dallas, again at home, and a trip to Miami to face San Diego in the Super Bowl.
It was Young’s first Super Bowl as a starter, but he felt no pressure.
“Seriously, by the time I’d gone through the whole thing—taking over the quarterback job from Joe Montana—there was no way anything could ever be like that,” said Young. “Even the Super Bowl. I’d faced real media pressure before. Talking about football and a big game—that was nothing!”
When the game started, Young hit Rice for a quick-strike touchdown. San Diego went three-and-out. Watters went up the middle for the Niners, there was a short pass to Floyd, and Young scrambled for 20 yards to midfield. Watters then caught a pass at the Charger 30, evaded tacklers, and at 14–0 the game was all over but the shouting.
San Diego managed a score, but the 49ers responded with an impressive drive and scoring pass to Floyd. A deflected punt later gave San Francisco the ball in Chargers territory. Young maneuvered the offense inside the 10, then hit Watters on a short pass, 28–7. It was 28–10 at the half, with the TV audience rapidly losing in market share.
San Francisco was virtually perfect. They suffered no turnovers and only 10 yards in penalties. In the second half, Young passed them within sight of the goal, where Watters ran in for their only rushing score. Rice would finish with three TDs.
Young’s fifth touchdown pass made the score 42-10. Number six was a quick slant to Rice in the fourth quarter. Young broke Montana’s record for TD passes in a Super Bowl, set five years earlier. The 49ers defense intercepted Chargers quarterback Stan Humphries three times.
Just as Young had replaced Montana late in the Super Bowl blowout of Denver, Elvis Grbac replaced Young while he and his teammates whooped it up on the sideline.
“After the game, in the locker room, everybody was ecstatic,” recalled Young. “I can’t describe the feeling.”
Niners tight end Brent Jones, Steve Young’s best friend on the team, was a local guy from nearby University of Santa Clara, which is not exactly a “football factory.”
Niners defensive back Tim McDonald was the “model” for the Cuba Gooding Jr. role in the movie Jerry Maguire. According to agent Leigh Steinberg, McDonald was asked what motivated him to play football. “The money,” replied McDonald, and director Cameron Crowe turned that into the catchphrase, “Show me the money.”
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism