75 for 75: Hearst's 96-Yard Haul

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"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.

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September 6, 1998  

Running back Garrison Hearst posted one of the most dramatic runs in NFL history, racing a team-record 96 yards from scrimmage to score as the 49ers beat the New York Jets 36-30 in overtime.

"It was a smash-mouth play with a backside guard pulling," guard Kevin Gogan said. "Realistically, it's a 10-yard gain. Garrison gutted it out for 90."

After an exchange of punts in overtime, the 49ers started their second possession buried deep at their own four-yard line. On first down, quarterback Steve Young handed the ball to Hearst on a simple off-tackle play to the right side. Hearst slipped through the Jets defensive line, stiff-armed safety Kevin Williams at the 20, and was off to the races. Aided by some key downfield blocking by hustling left tackle Dave Fiore and receiver Terrell Owens, Hearst zigged and zagged his way downfield, reaching the end zone just ahead of Jets linebacker Mo Lewis' desperationt tackle attempt.

"The last 10 yards I was pulling everything I had," Hearst said in a postgame interview. "It was coming out of my booty."

Hearst broke six tackles en route to establishing the longest run from scrimmage in 49ers history. He finished the day with 187 yards rushing.

Hearst went on to have his best NFL season in 1998, rushing for 1,570 yards and registering 39 receptions for 535 yards. He earned a spot in the Pro Bowl for the first time but unfortunately was unable to play after suffering a horrific ankle injury during the 1998 NFC Divisional Playoff Game.

In 2001, Hearst was back in a 49ers uniform after two years in rehab working with doctors and physical therapists. He posted 1,206 yards rushing along with 41 receptions. Hearst's teammates selected him as the recipient of the Len Eshmont Award for his courageous and inspirational play. The NFL also honored him as the Comeback Player of the Year.

Most importantly, he was named to the Pro Bowl again. This time he had the opportunity to play and nabbed a 14-yard touchdown pass from NFC quarterback Donovan McNabb to complete a remarkable comeback season.

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