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Super Bowl XXIII Highlights

A lackluster passing game had the 1988 edition of the 49ers at 6-5, with a quarterback controversy and an ankle injury to Jerry Rice. But with Rice healthy and Joe Montana installed over Steve Young, the 49ers won four of their last five games to claim the NFC West title and then whipped Minnesota and Chicago in the playoffs to set up their third Super Bowl victory in the 1980s.

In Super Bowl XXIII, against the league's top rushing team, it was the 49ers defense that saved the day, keeping the Bengals' offense out of the end zone. Here's an account from the Jan. 29, 1989, St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Yes, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were heroic, but it was San Francisco's defense that really won by holding Cincinnati's potent offense to three field goals. George Seifert ... probably clinched [the 49ers head coaching job] with his work Sunday.

Among other tactics, here's some of Seifert's ploys you may have missed: He used Pierce Holt, a 280-pound tackle, as a dropback linebacker in some pass coverages. He used a 4-7 defense that was literally that -- four linemen and seven defensive backs. He put Bill Romanowski, a 230-pound linebacker, on wide receiver Eddie Brown -- not to stay with him but to bump the sense out of him at the line of scrimmage.

He had Charles Haley bounce all over the place so that the Bengals never knew where he would be rushing from. He defied Cincinnati to throw by using safeties Ronnie Lott and Jeff Fuller as almost full-time run defenders. Lott, in particular, was the single biggest reason Ickey Woods never got to dance. 

George Seifert,
defensive
coordinator

Super Bowl XXIII
January 22, 1989
Joe Robbie Stadium
Attendance: 75,129
MVP: Jerry Rice


Game coverage:

The Sporting News:
"49ers Slip Past Bengals"

1988 San Francisco roster

No. Name               Pos.   Ht.  Wt.   Birthdate  Exp  College

79  Barton, Harris      T      6-4  280  4/19/64    2   North Carolina
95  Carter, Michael     NT     6-2  285  10/29/60   5   SMU
 6  Cofer, Mike         K      6-1  190  2/19/64    1   North Carolina St.
69  Collie, Bruce       G-T    6-6  275  6/27/62    4   Texas-Arlington
38  Cox, Greg           S      6-0  223  1/6/65     R   San Jose St.
33  Craig, Roger        RB     6-0  224  7/10/60    6   Nebraska
51  Cross, Randy        C      6-3  265  4/25/54   13   UCLA
50  Ellison, Riki       LB     6-2  225  8/15/60    6   USC
75  Fagan, Kevin        DE     6-4  265  4/25/63    2   Miami
55  Fahnhorst, Jim      LB     6-4  230  11/8/58    5   Minnesota
32  Flagler, Terrence   RB     6-0  200  9/24/64    2   Clemson
86  Frank,John          TE     6-3  225  4/17/62    5   Ohio State
49  Fuller, Jeff        S      6-2  216  8/8/62     5   Texas A&M
83  Greer, Terry        WR     6-1  192  9/27/57    3   Alabama St.
29  Griffin, Don        CB     6-0  176  3/17/64    3   Middle Tennessee St.
54  Hadley, Ron         LB     6-2  240  11/9/63    2   Washington
94  Haley, Charles      LB-DE  6-5  230  1/6/64     3   James Madison
89  Heller, Ron         TE     6-3  235  9/18/63    2   Oregon St.
 9  Helton, Barry       P      6-3  205  1/2/65     R   Colorado
46  Holmoe, Tom         S      6-2  195  3/7/60     5   BYU
78  Holt, Pierce        NT     6-4  280  1/l/62     R   Angelo State
84  Jones, Brent        TE     6-4  230  2/12/63    2   Santa Clara
57  Kennedy,Sam         LB     6-3  235  7/10/64    1   San Jose State
67  Kugler, Pete        DE     6-4  255  8/9/59     6   Penn State
42  Lott, Ronnie        S      6-0  200  5/8/59     8   USC
62  McIntyre, Guy       G      6-3  265  2/17/61    5   Georgia
22  McKyer, Tim         CB     6-0  174  9/5/63     3   Texas-Arlington
16  Montana, Joe        QB     6-2  195  6/11/56   10   Notre Dame
20  Nixon, Tory         CB     5-11 186  2/24/62    4   San Diego State
77  Paris, Bubba        T      6-6  306  10/6/60    6   Michigan
26  Pollard, Darryl     CB     5-11 187  5/11/65    2   Weber State
44  Rathman, Tom        RB     6-1  232  10/7/62    3   Nebraska
80  Rice, Jerry         WR     6-2  200  10/13/62   4   Mississippi Valley St.
91  Roberts, Larry      DE     6-3  275  6/2/63     3   Alabama
35  Rodgers, Del        RB     5-10 203  6/22/60    4   Utah
53  Romanowski, Bill    LB     6-4  231  4/2/66     R   Boston College
61  Sapolu, Jesse       G      6-4  260  3/10/61    3   Hawaii
96  Stubbs, Daniel      DE     6-4  260  1/3/65     R   Miami
24  Sydney, Harry       RB     6-0  217  6/26/59    2   Kansas
82  Taylor, John        WR     6-1  185  3/31/62    2   Delaware State
60  Thomas, Chuck       C      6-3  280  12/24/60   3   Oklahoma
58  Turner,Keena        LB     6-2  222  10/22/58   9   Purdue
74  Wallace, Steve      T      6-5  276  12/27/64   3   Auburn
99  Walter, Michael     LB     6-3  238  11/30/60   6   Oregon
85  Wilson, Mike        WR     6-3  215  12/19/58   8   Washington St.
21  Wright, Eric        CB     6-1  185  4/18/59    7   Missouri
 8  Young, Steve        QB     6-2  200  10/11/61   4   BYU

 

 

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