"75 for 75" is an article series from the 49ers Museum highlighting legendary moments in 49ers history as part of the team's 75th Anniversary celebrations in 2021.
October 18, 1992
Atlanta coach Jerry Glanville started the day by marching a five-foot high trophy emblazoned with the mysterious title "NFL California State Champions" along the Falcons sideline at Candlestick Park, then parking it on his team's bench. It was like sneaking a Cracker Jack prize into the 49ers display case and resting it beside the club's Vince Lombardi Trophies.
"It was kind of inflammatory," 49ers head coach George Seifert said.
That is an understatement. It ignited a firestorm.
By halftime, the 49ers rolled up 42 points on Atlanta, the most in any 30-minute span in team history, and posted six touchdowns on seven possessions. Wide receiver Jerry Rice hauled in an 80-yard bomb from quarterback Steve Young to record his 100th career touchdown and added a 40-yard catch-and-run to score again late in the second quarter.
Rookie running back Ricky Watters, playing in just his eighth NFL game, raced for three touchdowns in the first half alone. He recognized and praised the men who opened the running lanes, especially his backfield mate.
"I've never been around a fullback who blocks like Tom Rathman," Watters said in the game's aftermath. "It makes my job a lot easier."
Lost in the praise for Rathman's blocking prowess was his one-yard rushing touchdown to get the scoring started early in the first period.
While the Falcons licked their wounds during the intermission trailing 42-10, the U.S. Marine Corps drill team appeared for the halftime show. As they marched into position, many fans thought the Falcons had surrendered. Then the second half started and almost immediately, Rice raised his career touchdown total to 102 with a 26-yard run off a double reverse.
That is when Seifert called off the dogs. The 49ers playmakers hit the bench. Backup quarterback Steve Bono came in for Young late in the third quarter after throwing for 399 yards and three scores. Rice turned from All-Pro receiver to world class cheerleader after posting seven receptions for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Watters spent the fourth quarter enjoying the life of an NFL rookie after racking up three scoring runs, averaging five yards on 15 carries and nabbing three passes for 57 yards.
"That was unbelievable," Young said after being told the 49ers scored eight touchdowns in their first nine possessions. "We were just on a roll."
The 49ers offense went scoreless in the fourth period as they ran out the clock. On the opposing sideline, Glanville's faux trophy remained prominently displayed on the Falcons team bench.
It was still there when the Falcons slouched off the field after enduring a 56-17 drubbing.