Watters' three scores help 49ers breeze

January 30, 1995|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

MIAMI -- The game had just ended, and San Francisco 49ers running back Ricky Watters was smothered by just as many reporters as Deion Sanders and Ken Norton Jr.

How about Jerry Rice and Steve Young? "Not in that class, yet," said Watters, laughing.

But Watters, the fourth-year running back from Notre Dame, turned in a strong performance as the 49ers defeated the San Diego Chargers, 49-26, last night in Super Bowl XXIX at Joe Robbie Stadium.

The 6-foot-1, 212-pound Watters scored three touchdowns, including a 51-yard reception in the first quarter that helped put the 49ers ahead, 14-0. The rout was on.

"I was just asked, if in my mind, I envisioned three touchdowns," said Watters, "and I would be lying if I said no, because I did. I don't know if it was a dream or something, but I was walking around all week saying I was going to get three touchdowns.

"And if you don't believe me, you can ask my mother. I cannot believe that it has really happened."

Watters couldn't believe what happened in the 1993 and 1994 NFC championship games, when the 49ers lost to the Dallas Cowboys.

Watters said he had some redemption because he was elected to play in the Pro Bowl the past two years. But he said he will gladly trade in a Super Bowl ring for a Pro Bowl appearance.

"After you work so hard and you finally obtain it, it's just a beautiful thing," said Watters. "It's just a dream come true. I can't believe it actually happened. It seems like I'm going to wake up and realize we haven't even played yet, but I feel good.

"It's incredible. You're surrounded by these great guys and everybody is clicking," he said. "It's like a puzzle. Everybody fits in together and I'm part of that puzzle."

Watters was a major piece. He had 877 yards rushing on 239 carries during the regular season, and had a career high in receptions with 66 for 719 yards.

Watters' running style is distinct, in ways reminiscent of former 49ers running back Roger Craig. Watters has that high-stepping motion, one that alternates between flash when putting a move on a defender, and --, when he hits the open field.

"I love it when Ricky scores a touchdown moving at full tilt," said 49ers guard Jesse Sapolu. "Man, he gives me goose bumps with that knee-pumping action."

Imagine the rush Sapolu got when Watters scored on that 51-yard reception only four minutes, 55 seconds into the game to give the 49ers a 14-0 lead. Watters ran a post pattern, getting behind the linebacker and then splitting safeties Darren Carrington and Stanley Richard, who both also missed tackles on Watters after the reception.

"We did make some critical errors," said San Diego defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger. "You can't spot a team that good two touchdowns."

"I think we created some real mismatches for them," said Watters, who had three catches for two touchdowns and 61 yards. "I think we can do that to anyone. You have Jerry Rice on one side and John Taylor on the other. And you have a great play fake by Young and William Floyd that sucked the linebackers up and I got in behind them, caught the ball in the middle before they could react and the rest is just God-given ability."

Watters scored again with 4:44 left in the half, this time on an 8-yard pass from Young in the left flat. But Watters is a runner first and a receiver second. He wanted to run one in the end zone.

"Coach told me when I came in at halftime, it doesn't matter how you get in there," said Watters. "He told me to keep on playing the way I'm playing."

Watters scored on a 9-yard run with 9:35 left in the third quarter, and finished with 47 yards rushing on 15 carries.

"The play was supposed to go to the right side, and I just cut it back behind them because they were over-pursuing," he said.

"You can't ever be perfect, but we try to be so close to perfect every week that people can't notice any difference," Watters said. "We would like to think that we rate right up there with the best of them and we hope that people will see us that way. "But I leave that up to those big, fat guys who sit around a table and talk about it all the time on ESPN."

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