Monday, Dec. 5, 1994

49ers put 50 on board, but mind is on Dallas

By John Schumacher
McClatchy News Service

SAN FRANCISCO -- If only they could push the fast-forward button, skip the rest of the regular season and move on to something a bit more meaningful.

The San Francisco 49ers, certainly, looked more than ready for the playoffs in their 50-14 rout of Atlanta yesterday at Candlestick Park.

But there was good reason not to get too caught up in pondering the postseason. Dallas won't let them.

The Cowboys were nearly 3,000 miles away yesterday, but they managed to make their presence felt on a cold, dreary day at Candlestick.

A few minutes after the 49ers took the field, Dallas put the finishing touches on a 31-19 victory in Philadelphia. That left the Cowboys with an 11-2 record, forcing the 49ers to beat the Falcons to maintain their edge over Dallas in the race for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

San Francisco responded, winning its eighth consecutive game in impressive fashion.

The 49ers (11-2) rolled up their highest point total of the season, finished with 476 yards in total offense, held the Falcons to 43 yards rushing and took advantage of five turnovers.

When 49ers coach George Seifert walked into his postgame interview, though, the first team he talked about wasn't Atlanta. It was Dallas.

"If we're fortunate enough and we play well enough, then we wind up with the home-field advantage," Seifert said. "Everyone understands the pressure that's on us with regard to other clubs in the NFC, particularly Dallas."

Quarterback Steve Young threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two scores. Jerry Rice caught seven passes for 92 yards and a score, and Ricky Watters contributed 73 yards receiving and 53 yards rushing.

Safety Merton Hanks came up with two interceptions, and cornerback Deion Sanders took wide receiver Andre Rison out of the game, holding him to one catch in the first three quarters.

The Falcons' big play of the day came in the second quarter when defensive end Chuck Smith stepped off the line of scrimmage, dropped into coverage and intercepted a pass intended for Rice. Smith ran 36 yards for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 17-14.