Monday, October 19, 1992


St. Louis Post-Dispatch Wire Services

SAN FRANCISCO -- There was some heavy duty payback Sunday by the San Francisco 49ers.

They buried memories of two bitter National Football League losses to Atlanta last year by burying the Atlanta Falcons. It was the most points ever scored by a 49ers team, surpassing a 55-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in the 1990 Super Bowl.

''This was fun,'' said San Francisco quarterback Steve Young, adding it ''probably'' eased some of the anguish from last season's losses.

The Falcons (2-5) beat the 49ers 39-34 in their first meeting last year as Tim McKyer had two fourth-quarter interceptions of Young. McKyer, a former 49er, strutted along the San Francisco sideline in celebration after the second pickoff, and 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. later said he'd rather lose than have a player like McKyer on his team.

In the second meeting, Billy Joe Tolliver completed a desperation pass in the last second to Michael Haynes, who outleaped six defenders in the end zone for a 17-14 win. The 49ers missed the playoffs by one game.

The 49ers had downplayed the revenge factor leading up to Sunday's game. But it was clear what was on their minds as they appeared determined to score early and often, making any kind of comeback by the Falcons impossible.

''If you couldn't get up for this game, you're not a 49er,'' said Jerry Rice, who scored three touchdowns. ''We were very aggressive and took control of the game early. If we can come out like this every game, there's no telling how far we can go.''

A trophy, 4 1/2 feet tall and inscribed ''NFL California State Champions 1991,'' sat at the end of the Falcons' bench. The Falcons had the trophy commissioned last year after they posted a 6-0 record against California teams. But bringing the trophy on the trip to Candlestick Park was a bit too much for the 49ers.

''I really tried not to think of it, but it really was kind of inflammatory,'' 49ers coach George Seifert said. ''The word was they were going to have a victory lap after the game, and hold up the trophy.''

''What choice did he have?'' 49ers tight end Brent Jones added.

Sunday, Atlanta's gambling defense was burned by Young and Rice, who teamed on touchdown passes of 80 and 40 yards, and Ricky Watters, who ran for touchdowns of 1, 4 and 8 yards.

And the 49ers kept pouring it on.

Rice, who became the eighth player in NFL history to score 100 or more career touchdowns, took a handoff from Watters and scored his third touchdown of the day. It came on a 26-yard reverse. That put San Francisco ahead 49-10 midway through the third quarter and was his 102nd career TD.

It was the kind of big game Rice had been waiting for after having just two touchdown receptions in the previous six games.

''It's so dangerous when Jerry Rice doesn't get the stats he thinks he's supposed to be getting. Games like this happen and he just explodes,'' 49ers center Jesse Sapolu said.

Later in the third period Young threw his third touchdown pass, an 11-yarder to Jones, who tossed the ball into the stands in celebration. Mercifully, Young and Rice then were removed and Tolliver replaced starter Chris Miller as the Falcons basically conceded.

''Today, we played a highly motivated team [and] we got caught in a buzz saw,'' Tolliver said.

Young finished with 399 yards passing, 336 in the first half, while completing 18 of 28 throws. Rice made seven receptions for 183 yards.

''It wasn't a pretty sight,'' Falcons coach Jerry Glanville said. ''They kicked our butts every way there was, no excuses, no alibis.''

The 49ers (6-1) scored 21 points in each of the first two quarters and broke the club record for most points in a half. They had 41 first-half points against the Minnesota Vikings in 1988.