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1988 San Francisco 49ers season: Map


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The San Francisco 49ers 1988 season was their 43rd season in the National Football League. The season was highlighted by their third Super Bowl victory. In 1988, the 49ers struggled. At one point, they were 6-5 and in danger of missing the playoffs but rose to defeat the Washington Redskins on a Monday night, eventually finishing the season at 10-6. They gained a measure of revenge by thrashing the Minnesota Vikings 34-9 in the first round. The 49ers then traveled to Chicago's Soldier Field, where the chill factor at gametime was 26 degrees below zero. They defeated the Chicago Bears 28-3 in a NFC Championship game upset.

For the 49ers, it was their first Super Bowl appearance since they defeated the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX. They had made the playoffs in the three seasons between Super Bowl XIX and Super Bowl XXIII, but were eliminated each time in the first round, primarily because of the poor performances by their offensive stars in those games; quarterback Joe Montana, receiver Jerry Rice and running back Roger Craig all failed to produce a single touchdown.

NFL Draft

Round # Pick # Player Position College
33 San Francisco 49ers Danny Stubbs Outside Linebacker Miami
39 San Francisco 49ers Pierce Holt Defensive Tackle Angelo Statemarker
80 San Francisco 49ers Bill Romanowski Outside Linebacker Boston Collegemarker
102 San Francisco 49ers Barry Helton Punter Colorado
191 San Francisco 49ers Kevin Bryant Linebacker Delaware State

Regular season

In the 1988 season, San Francisco won the NFC West with a 10-6 regular season record, but it was a long uphill battle. The team had a quarterback controversy with Montana and Steve Young each starting at quarterback during the season. But after a 6-5 start, Montana led the 49ers to win 4 of their final 5 regular season games.

Montana finished the regular season with 238 completions for 2,981 yards and 18 touchdowns, and also added 132 rushing yards. His favorite target was Rice, who recorded 64 receptions for 1,306 yards (a 20.4 yards per catch average) and 9 touchdowns. Craig was also a key contributor with a total of 2,036 combined rushing and receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, earning him the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award. Fullback Tom Rathman also made a big impact, rushing for 427 yards and catching 42 passes for 387 yards. The 49ers defense was led by defensive backs Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright, Jeff Fuller, and Tim McKyer, who recorded a combined total of 18 interceptions. McKyer led the team with 7, while Lott recorded 5. Linebacker Charles Haley was also a big contributor with 11.5 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries.


Week Date Opponent Result
1 September 4, 1988 at New Orleans Saints W 34-33
2 September 11, 1988 at New York Giants W 20-17
3 September 18, 1988 Atlanta Falcons L 17-34
4 September 25, 1988 at Seattle Seahawks W 38-7
5 October 2, 1988 Detroit Lions W 20-13
6 October 9, 1988 Denver Broncos L 13-16 (OT)
7 October 16, 1988 at Los Angeles Rams W 24-21
8 October 24, 1988 (Mon) at Chicago Bears L 9-10
9 October 30, 1988 Minnesota Vikings W 24-21
10 November 6, 1988 at Phoenix Cardinals L 23-24
11 November 13, 1988 Los Angeles Raiders L 3-9
12 November 21, 1988 (Mon) Washington Redskins W 37-21
13 November 27, 1988 at San Diego Chargers W 48-10
14 December 4, 1988 at Atlanta Falcons W 13-3
15 December 11, 1988 New Orleans Saints W 30-17
16 December 18, 1988 Los Angeles Rams L 16-38


NFC West
San Francisco 49ers 10 6 0 .625 369 294 L-1
Los Angeles Rams 10 6 0 .625 407 293 W-3
New Orleans Saints 10 6 0 .625 312 283 W-1
Atlanta Falcons 5 11 0 .313 244 315 L-3


NFC Divisional Playoff

  • San Francisco 49ers 34, Minnesota Vikings 9

January 1, 1989 at Candlestick Parkmarker, San Franciscomarker

NFC Championship Game

  • San Francisco 49ers 28, Chicago Bears 3

January 8, 1989 at Soldier Fieldmarker, Chicagomarker

Super Bowl XXIII

  • San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16

January 22, 1989 at Joe Robbie Stadiummarker, Miami, Floridamarker

The game is remembered for the 49ers' fourth-quarter game-winning drive. Down 16-13, San Francisco got the ball on their own eight yard line with 3:10 on the clock and marched 92 yards down the field in under three minutes. They then scored the winning touchdown on a Joe Montana pass to John Taylor with just 34 seconds left in the game.

49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice was named the Super Bowl MVP. He caught 11 passes for a Super Bowl record 215 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing once for 5 yards.

This was also the final NFL game coached by the 49ers' Bill Walsh. This was also the final Super Bowl that Pete Rozelle presided over as NFL Commissioner.

Scoring summary

  • SF - FG: Mike Cofer 41 yards 3-0 SF
  • CIN - FG: Jim Breech 34 yards 3-3 tie
  • CIN - FG: Jim Breech 43 yards 6-3 CIN
  • SF - FG: Mike Cofer 32 yards 6-6 tie
  • CIN - TD: Stanford Jennings 93 yard kickoff return (Jim Breech kick) 13-6 CIN
  • SF - TD: Jerry Rice 14 yard pass from Joe Montana (Mike Cofer kick) 13-13 tie
  • CIN - FG: Jim Breech 40 yards 16-13 CIN
  • SF - TD: John Taylor 10 yard pass from Joe Montana (Mike Cofer kick) 20-16 SF



Running Backs Wide Receivers Tight Ends Offensive Linemen
Linebackers Defensive Linemen

Defensive Backs Special Teams
Reserve Lists
  • Currently vacant

Awards and records

  • Mike Cofer, Led NFC, 27 Field Goals
  • Mike Cofer, Led NFC, 121 Points
  • Roger Craig, Offense, UPI NFC Player of the Year
  • Roger Craig, Led NFC with 2068 total yards
  • Jerry Rice, Most Valuable Player, Super Bowl XXIII


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