"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.
December 29, 1984
Rookie tight end John Frank stirred up a hornet's nest when he slipped past Lawrence Taylor in Week 6 of the 1984 season to catch his first NFL pass for a touchdown. The 49ers posted a 31-10 win and Taylor, one of the most feared linebackers in NFL history, did not forget about the baby-faced medical student from Ohio State.
"I didn't know who Lawrence Taylor was," Frank recalled innocently. "I was just excited to score my first touchdown."
Ten weeks later, the 49ers and Giants met again in an NFC Divisional playoff. This time Frank took note of the meticulous pre-game blocking schemes prepared by the 49ers staff to stop Taylor. Still, veteran offensive lineman Randy Cross was not sure that Frank understood the possible mayhem Taylor could create. He finally pulled Frank aside and said, "You really don't know who Lawrence Taylor is do you?"
Frank quickly found out. Taylor registered two sacks in the game, broke up a pass and often hurried or hit Joe Montana as the 49ers quarterback attempted to pass. In the fourth quarter, Frank was in the process of blocking Taylor when the future Hall of Famer grabbed Frank and attempted to fling him to the turf.
Frank did not back down. He went after Taylor like an angry bulldog. In the broadcast booth, John Madden excitedly described the on-field wrestling match which ended with Frank's reverse pin of Taylor. The 220-pound rookie then sat firmly atop Taylor and held him to the turf while the All-Pro linebacker vainly attempted to retaliate with punches.
''I thought I put a standard NFL block on him,'' Frank said. ''I was surprised when he started punching. I really thought they would have thrown a flag on him.''
While Frank, a Rhodes Scholar and future medical doctor, suddenly became the team's enforcer, Montana continued his role as the 49ers'offensive wizard. He threw for 309 yards and three scores while Dwight Clark burned the Giants for nine catches, 112 yards and a touchdown. San Francisco prevailed 21-10 and went on to beat Dan Marino's Miami Dolphins at Super Bowl XIX.