Monday, September 11, 1989


Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts tried desperately to rally in the fourth quarter Sunday and sent seven players headhunting for San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana. They forgot about receiver Jerry Rice.

''They came with an all-out blitz and I got underneath the coverage,'' said Rice, whose 58-yard, fourth-quarter pass reception for a touchdown helped the 49ers beat the Colts 30-24.

''I cut my route and jumped into the middle. I guess they felt they had to get pressure on Joe. He just stood in there and sidearmed the ball,'' Rice said.

The victory marked the debut of 49ers head coach George Seifert, a former assistant who took over this season for Bill Walsh.

''There's a lot more pressure on that sideline than I realized,'' Seifert said. ''There's anxiety, obviously. There's anxiety in any ballgame, whether you're head coach or assistant coach. But when you feel it out there and feel the mood of the players, feel the emotion of the players, that was an interesting sense.''

Seifert called his debut ''a gut-wrencher. It's about as wild as they get, but I'm sure they will get tougher.''

Indianapolis coach Ron Meyer said the Colts were dogging Montana.

''We were trying to get pressure. Rice came under our coverage and used our defensive coverage to get open,'' Meyer said.

''It was a short little throw that went the distance,'' he said of the game-breaking reception. ''When you commit those people, you have to tip the ball or get the player. It was one of those high-risk plays. We had seven people coming after Montana, but they just didn't get there.''

Roger Craig rushed for two earlier touchdowns for the 49ers.

The Colts' Eric Dickerson rushed for 106 yards, making him only the seventh NFL player to gain at least 10,000 yards in his career.

The Colts, losing their season opener for the sixth year in a row, trailed by only six points after quarterback Chris Chandler's 1-yard touchdown run midway through the final period. But the defending Super Bowl champions struck quickly on the next possession, moving 80 yards in five plays. And then there was the long scoring pass to Rice, the 50th TD reception of his career.

Tim McKyer ended one Indianapolis drive with an interception at the 49ers' 6-yard line with 2 minutes 11 seconds to go, but the Colts scored the final touchdown with 1:28 left when Chris Goode blocked a punt by Barry Helton on the 38 and Albert Bentley recovered the ball in the end zone.

San Francisco then ran out the clock.

Craig rushed 24 times for 131 yards, and Montana completed 15 of 26 passes for 233 yards, including six for 163 yards to Rice.

Mike Cofer added three field goals for the 49ers.

The Colts' Dean Biasucci, who last year set an NFL record with six field goals of at least 50 yards, twice missed attempts from that distance in the first half, including one on the opening drive of the game.

The 49ers reached the Indianapolis 12 on the next series before Montana was sacked for an 8-yard loss, and Cofer kicked a 38-yard field goal. Biasucci hit a 31-yarder on the next possession, tying the score 3-3 after one quarter, and the two teams traded touchdowns early in the second quarter.

A 53-yard pass to Rice took San Francisco to the Indianapolis 26, and seven plays later Craig ran the final yard for the first 49ers touc hdown.

Indianapolis came back on the next series with passes to rookie Andre Rison and Bentley to the 49ers' 31. Dickerson ran 8 yards, then Chandler passed 23 to Bill Brooks, who stretched across the goal line for the touchdown as he was tackled.

Biasucci missed a 52-yard field goal attempt with 1:52 left, and San Francisco drove 56 yards before Cofer's 26-yard field goal as the half ended with the 49ers ahead 13-10.

San Francisco took control in the third quarter on Craig's second touchdown run, a 4-yarder, and a 31-yard field goal by Cofer.