It was only the third quarter, but Brent Jones wanted a Super Bowl champions hat. The NFL told him he had to wait.
Never in the history of the NFL has a team done what the 1989 49ers accomplished in Super Bowl XXIV. Before the game ended, Jones got his wish, as he and his teammates donned their white hats while the clock wound down on the 55-10 victory over the Denver Broncos. The 45-point win still stands as the biggest margin of victory in Super Bowl history.
“I believe, and I know a lot of people do, that was the best football team that ever played the game,” Jones said. “I don’t know that anybody’s going to top that. Certainly, there’s an argument for the ‘78 Steelers, but I think our offense and defense combined, we would have snuck out a win against those guys. That’s special in the fact that I think that team was pretty much unbeatable.”
Jones and other 49ers alumni from throughout the generations gathered in New Orleans on Saturday, in the same city where the 1989 team recorded NFL history.
Coming back to the Crescent City elicited plenty of good memories from Jones, his teammates, and coach George Seifert. 1989 marked Seifert’s first year as the head coach following a Hall of Fame 10-year run by Bill Walsh, and the 49ers went 14-2 in the regular season before going on a torrid playoff run.
Saturday’s alumni gathering also featured Co-Chairman Dr. John York, 49ers Hall of Famers like Bob St. Clair and Gordy Soltau and dozens of other former players, bringing a family vibe to the event.
“49ers alumni are a special group,” said St. Clair, who played for San Francisco from 1953-63 before being elected in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. “I’ve been to alumni functions throughout the United States for other teams and everything, but the camaraderie we have as 49ers alumni is unsurpassed.”
But the members of the 1989 team were especially happy to be back in New Orleans. John Elway and the Broncos proved to be no match for Joe Montana and the 49ers, who raced out to a 27-3 lead at halftime and never looked back.
Montana finished with five touchdowns, throwing three to Jerry Rice, one to Jones and one to John Taylor, while Tom Rathman and Roger Craig each added fourth-quarter touchdown runs to bring the game to its final margin.
“It was my first Super Bowl and it was probably the most exciting thing I ever experienced,” said Charles Haley, the only five-time Super Bowl champ in NFL history. “We got on top of Denver so fast, so quick, they could not recover.”
Bubba Paris especially enjoyed seeing Haley and Hall of Famer Fred Dean on Saturday, as he spent his career facing two of the best pass-rushers in franchise history. So it was a bit more pleasant to be sharing food, drinks and laughs with them instead of battling in the trenches.
“To see these players every day and knowing that they had greatness in them and knowing that your job was to deal with them every day at practice, it makes you feel great to see them again,” Paris said.
It’s been 23 years since that eventful evening in the Superdome, but the 49ers are back in the quest for the sixth Super Bowl in franchise history. From Seifert to St. Clair and everyone in between, they have enjoyed watching Jim Harbaugh and his players bring the 49ers back to football’s biggest stage.
“I think they’re going to take it home,” Haley said.