Before the 49ers move on from Candlestick Park, their home since 1972, to Levi’s® Stadium in Santa Clara in 2014, it’s time to look back again. Steve Young running San Francisco to victory on an amazing scamper during the 1988 season lands at No. 5 on Candlestick Park’s Top 10 Greatest Moments, presented by SAP.
Each highlight, which fans voted on from a list of 25 nominations, will be memorialized at a home game in 2013, continuing on Oct. 13, when the 49ers host the Arizona Cardinals. The piece of history will also be pictured on each game ticket for the final season at the ‘Stick.
It’s time to celebrate No. 5.
VIEW: PHOTOS FROM 1988
The play started with a simple pump-fake. It accelerated with a spin move to escape a burly nose tackle. After another broken tackle, the fourth of six, the football was briefly bobbled. Then there was a cut-back at the opposition’s 30-yard line. The last 10 yards was more of a stumble than a sprint.
But was there ever any doubt that Steve Young would score?
Young’s 49-yard run at The ‘Stick on Oct. 30, 1988 brought the 49ers back from a four-point deficit late in the fourth quarter to beat the visiting Minnesota Vikings, 24-21.
And it’s etched in the stadium’s history – the scramble that led to the third of the team’s five Super Bowl wins.
Lon Simmons’ call gives the play its rightful place in the past.
The broadcaster can be heard over the grainy footage: “Gets away gain, goes to the 40, gets away again, to the 35, cuts back at the 30, to the 20, the 15, the 10 – he dives, touchdown 49ers!”
Though it wasn’t necessarily a dive.
“My legs just quit – I was done,” Young told 49ers Studios recently. “I was like, ‘Don’t fail me now!’ And I fell in the end zone.”
Said wide receiver Jerry Rice, one of Young’s many blockers on his circuitous route to pay dirt: “I remember that run -- it was unbelievable. I always gave Steve a hard time because he liked to run the football and that was an asset because all of sudden you got a quarterback that is a double-threat.”
On this particular fall, 56-degree afternoon in San Francisco, Young was 14-of-25 for 232 yards passing, including a 73-yard touchdown toss to one John Taylor, to go with his 72 rushing yards and score.
Nevertheless, the 49ers faced a 21-17 disadvantage late in the last quarter.
Young’s legs – and his teammates – would be the difference.
Lower the volume on Simmons’ historic call, and watch the scheming in slow-mo.
“You could see it from start to finish,” offensive tackle Steve Wallace said. “One guy making a block, the next guy making a block, (Guy) McIntyre running in there, Mike Wilson run in and all these receivers, John Taylor just (saying), ‘Oh, by the way, I’ve got a block too.’ It kept going, it kept going.
“A lot of times that was how we ran our offense, one guy catches the ball and everybody else rallies around him.”
Rice, who caught just one pass from Young in this game, had always teased Young for being a running quarterback. Knowing that about his teammate left the Hall of Famer in perfect position to help – Rice took on a blocker at the 15 before fellow wideout Wilson ate up the last Viking at the goal line.
“During practice, this is something we always worked at: trying to get downfield, tying to be that guy to make that last block to spring that running back or that receiver and this time it was (for) Steve Young,” Rice said. “I remember getting in position and making that block, and somehow he stumbled into the end zone. I remember guys just jumping on his back.
“It was an outstanding play and, to me, typical Steve Young.”