49ers hit their stride, roll by Redskins Montana and Co. erase shaky start with 26-13 victory

September 17, 1990|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco 49ers, who displayed their four Super Bowl trophies during the halftime ceremonies, -- showed the Washington Redskins yesterday how they won them.

Forget that shaky, one-point victory over the New Orleans Saints Monday night. Forget all the concern about their shuffled offensive line. Forget all that concern about complacency.

The 49ers proved they're still the 49ers when they routed the Washington Redskins, 26-13, before 64,287 fans at Candlestick Park.

"I think the way we played today was close to how we were playing at the end of last season," quarterback Joe Montana said.

Defensive lineman Jim Burt disagreed, but the 49ers can afford to debate the point.

"We're not the team we were last year. This year is a totally different team. Hey, we could be better than we were last year. We've just got to keep working. We've got a long, long way to go," Burt said.

They do?

Don't tell the Redskins that.

"They're as good as anybody I've seen," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "They're playing at a level right now that nobody else has been able to play with for a while."

Since the 49ers previously had beaten the Redskins, 37-21, in 1988, they've gone 26-3. The Redskins are just 12-11 in that span, although they had won six straight games -- all against losing teams -- before running into the 49ers.

How many times have we seen this before?

Montana passed for 390 yards. Roger Craig ran for 82 yards. John Taylor and Jerry Rice combined for 14 catches, and each had a touchdown catch.

The offensive line, which allowed Montana to be sacked six times Monday night by the Saints, didn't give up a sack.

Steve Wallace, who had trouble with the noise at the Louisiana Superdome and was called four times for moving before the snap, made Charles Mann virtually disappear. Mann didn't even get a tackle, much less a sack.

"It was disappointing," Mann said. "There were some things we thought we could do and weaknesses we thought we could exploit. The thing about Montana is when I'd make a good move to get into position for a sack, the ball would be gone."

It didn't help that quarterback Mark Rypien struggled. He made several bad throws and didn't see Kelvin Bryant when he was wide-open on a pair of critical third-down plays.

Rypien, who completed 17 of 37 passes for 241 yards, said: "I think the fourth quarter was probably about as poor physically throwing the football performance that I've played in a while. It's frustrating, because that's when we needed it."

The Redskins, who were behind, 17-3, with two minutes left in the second quarter, tried to make a game of it when Rypien threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Art Monk on a fourth-and-five. Rypien wanted to throw a short pass to Gary Clark for the first down, but the 49ers were looking for that and let Monk get loose deep.

After Mike Cofer's 30-yard field goal with one second left in the half boosted the margin to 20-10, the 49ers had a halftime ceremony featuring owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr.

As the fans yelled, "Eddie, Eddie, Eddie," the cheerleaders brought the four Super Bowl trophies onto the field.

The 49ers then went out and continued their drive for a fifth one with a pair of good defensive stands.

On their first two drives of the third quarter, the Redskins drove to the 49ers' 15 and 1, but got only three points out of the two drives.

On the first drive, Eric Wright knocked a third-down pass out of Monk's arms, and Charles Haley then blocked a 33-yard field-goal attempt by Chip Lohmiller.

Although John Brandes' snap was high, Lohmiller said it didn't throw off his timing. Haley just got good penetration.

On the second drive, Clark caught a 40-yard pass before being knocked out of bounds on the 49ers.

1. After Gerald Riggs was stopped for no gain for two straight plays, Rypien faked a handoff to Riggs and was going to bootleg right but was forced inside by Ronnie Lott and tackled by Matt Millen. The Redskins settled for a field goal.

Rypien said: "We should at least get six [points] out of it [the two drives]. We're looking to try to get at least 10. I think the goal-line stand really hurt us."

Explaining why the Redskins thought Lott would bite on the fake handoff and leave the outside open, Rypien said: "In previous films, he's crashed down and tried to take the run away and given you the outside. This time, he came straight upfield and caused havoc in the backfield."

Linebacker Millen said: "Defenses play with a lot of emotion. It was a very emotional time for us. It was a big turning point for our defense. It was a great momentum thing for us. We settled down and played pretty well after that.

"The goal-line stand and the blocked field goal, that was the difference in the game."

Gibbs, though, said, "I think there were 100 key plays."

After Cofer kicked two more field goals to make it 26-13, the Redskins had one more shot to get back into the game when Darrell Green intercepted a Montana pass intended for Rice on the 49ers 45 with 5 minutes, 30 seconds to go.

But Rypien made poor throws on third and fourth downs to Monk and Sanders, and the 49ers then took over with 4:44 left and ran out the clock.

Gibbs wouldn't put the blame on Rypien.

"It was all of us, the special teams, offense, defense and coaching," Gibbs said. "They just did a better job. We just didn't get the job done."

Cornerbacks Green and Martin Mayhew had problems covering Rice and Taylor, although the task was difficult because the Redskins didn't put any pressure on Montana.

No matter what scheme the Redskins tried, it didn't work.

"We tried a little bit of everything. We tried going after him [Montana]. We tried sitting back. We tried pressing our corners, and they hit us deep. We tried playing off, and they hit in front of us," Gibbs said.

Millen was gracious in victory and said the 49ers might still see the Redskins again in the playoffs.

"That's a heck of a football team. They've got all the elements," Millen said.

The 49ers, though, are still in a league of their own.

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