1981 San Francisco 49ers season

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
1981 San Francisco 49ers season
Head coach Bill Walsh
General manager Bill Walsh
Home field Candlestick Park
Results
Record 13–3
Division place 1st NFC West
Playoff finish Won Divisional Playoffs (Giants) 38–24
Won NFC Championship (Cowboys) 28–27
Won Super Bowl XVI (Bengals) 26–21
Uniform
49ers76 83.png
Timeline
Previous season Next season
< 1980 1982 >

The 1981 San Francisco 49ers season was their 32nd season in the National Football League. Under third-year head coach Bill Walsh, the team finished the regular season with a 13–3 record.The season would be one of the franchise's most successful seasons to that point.

The 49ers won Super Bowl XVI by defeating the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals. It was the first of five Super Bowl victories in franchise history, all within the next 13 seasons.

Quarterback Joe Montana began the 1981 season as San Francisco's starting quarterback. Montana produced two fourth-quarter comeback victories. Montana's signature game of the season was the NFC Championship Game, which culminated in "The Catch," a last-minute touchdown pass from Montana to Dwight Clark, propelling the 49ers to victory over Dallas, and a berth in their first Super Bowl.

Offseason[edit]

NFL Draft[edit]

A turning point for the franchise was the drafting of safety Ronnie Lott from the University of Southern California. Lott would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Main article: 1981 NFL Draft
Round Pick Player Position College
1 8 Ronnie Lott DB USC
2 36(Choice from Washington) John Harty DT Iowa
2 Choice to Chicago
2 40(Choice from Chicago) Eric Wright DB Missouri
3 65 Carlton Williamson DB Pittsburgh
4 Choice to Dallas
5 121 Lynn Thomas DB Pittsburgh
5 122(Choice from Chicago) Arrington Jones RB Winston-Salem State
6 147 Pete Kugler DT Penn State
7 Choice to Philadelphia
8 203 Garry White RB Minnesota
9 Choice to Cincinnati
10 Choice to Baltimore
11 286 Ron DeBose TE UCLA
12 313 Major Ogilvie RB Alabama
12 322(Choice from Pittsburgh) Joe Adams QB Tennessee State

[1]

Training Camp[edit]

The 1981 San Francisco 49ers season held training camp at Sierra College in Rocklin, California.

Personnel[edit]

Staff[edit]

1981 San Francisco 49ers staff
Front office

Head coaches

  • Head Coach – Bill Walsh

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

  • Special Teams – Milt Jackson

Strength and conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning – Al Vermeil

Roster[edit]

1981 San Francisco 49ers roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams


Rookies in italics

[2]

Pre season[edit]

Schedule[edit]

Week Date Opponent Result Score Record Stadium Attendance Time Local TV
1
August 5, 1981 at Seattle Seahawks
W
27–24 (OT)
1–0
Kingdome
56,958
7:30 PM PDT
KPIX-TV
2
August 15, 1981 San Diego Chargers
L
28–31
1–1
Candlestick Park
41,667
6:00 PM PDT
KPIX-TV
3
August 22, 1981 Seattle Seahawks
W
24–22
2–1
Candlestick Park
37,563
6:00 PM PDT
KPIX-TV
4
August 29, 1981 at Oakland Raiders
L
7–21
2–2
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
51,192
6:00 PM PDT
KPIX-TV

Notes:

a All times in Pacific Time Zone.

Game officials[edit]

Week Opponent Referee Umpire Head Linesman Line Judge Back Judge Side Judge Field Judge
1 at Seattle Seahawks (7) (12) (10) (19) (16) (8) (11)
2 San Diego Chargers
3 Seattle Seahawks (10) (7) (22) (14) (5) (19) (20)
4 at Oakland Raiders

Regular season[edit]

With the offense in good shape, Walsh and the 49ers focused on overhauling the defense in 1981. Walsh took the highly unusual step of overhauling his entire secondary with rookies and untested players, bringing on board Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright and Carlton Williamson and giving Dwight Hicks a prominent role. He also acquired veteran linebacker Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds and veteran defensive lineman and sack specialist Fred Dean.

These new additions, when added to existing defensive mainstays like Keena Turner, turned the 49ers into a dominant team. After a 1–2 start, the 49ers won all but one of their final games to finish with a 13–3 record, easily the best record in the team's history. Additionally, the 49ers defense yielded more than 20 points in only three games. Dean made the Pro Bowl, as did Lott, in his rookie season, and Hicks.

Led by Montana, the unusual offense was centered around the short passing game, which Walsh used as ball control. Both Dwight Clark and Freddie Solomon had excellent years receiving; Clark as the possession receiver, and Solomon as more of a deep threat. The 49ers running game, however, was among the weakest for any champion in NFL history. Ricky Patton led the 49ers with only 543 yards rushing. The 49ers' most valuable running back, however, might have been Earl Cooper, whose strength was as a pass-catching back (he had 51 catches during the season).

Schedule[edit]

Week Date Opponent Result Score Record Stadium Attendance Time Network National Radio
1 September 6, 1981 at Detroit Lions L 17–24 0–1 Pontiac Silverdome
63,710
10:00 AM PDT CBS
2 September 13, 1981 Chicago Bears W 28–17 1–1 Candlestick Park
49,520
1:00 PM PDT CBS
3 September 20, 1981 at Atlanta Falcons L 17–34 1–2 Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
56,653
10:00 AM PDT CBS
4 September 27, 1981 New Orleans Saints W 21–14 2–2 Candlestick Park 44,433 1:00 PM PDT CBS
5 October 4, 1981 at Washington Redskins W 30–17 3–2 RFK Stadium 51,843 10:00 AM PDT CBS
6 October 11, 1981 Dallas Cowboys W 45–14 4–2 Candlestick Park 57,574 1:00 PM PDT CBS Mutual
7 October 18, 1981 vs. Green Bay Packers (at Milwaukee) W 13–3 5–2 County Stadium 50,171 11:00 AM PDT CBS
8 October 25, 1981 Los Angeles Rams W 20–17 6–2 Candlestick Park 59,190 1:00 PM PST CBS
9 November 1, 1981 at Pittsburgh Steelers W 17–14 7–2 Three Rivers Stadium 52,878 10:00 AM PST CBS
10 November 8, 1981 Atlanta Falcons W 17–14 8–2 Candlestick Park 59,127 1:00 PM PST CBS
11 November 15, 1981 Cleveland Browns L 12–15 8–3 Candlestick Park 52,455 1:00 PM PST NBC
12 November 22, 1981 at Los Angeles Rams W 33–31 9–3 Anaheim Stadium 63,456 1:00 PM PST CBS
13 November 29, 1981 New York Giants W 17–10 10–3 Candlestick Park 57,186 1:00 PM PST CBS
14 December 6, 1981 at Cincinnati Bengals W 21–3 11–3 Riverfront Stadium 56,796 10:00 AM PST CBS
15 December 13, 1981 Houston Oilers W 28–6 12–3 Candlestick Park 55,707 1:00 PM PST NBC
16 December 20, 1981 at New Orleans Saints W 21–17 13–3 Louisiana Superdome 43,639 11:00 AM PST CBS

Notes:

a All times in Pacific Time Zone. (UTC–7 and UTC–8 starting October 25)

Game summaries[edit]

Week 1 at Detroit Lions[edit]

Week One: San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 0 3 0 14 17
Lions 0 10 0 14 24

at Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan

Game information
Second Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • SF -
  • DET -
Turnovers
  • SF - 3
  • DET - 2

Week 2 vs. Chicago Bears[edit]

Week Two: Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Bears 0 10 7 0 17
49ers 7 7 7 7 28

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • CHI -
  • SF -
Turnovers
  • CHI - 3
  • SF - 2

Week 3 at Atlanta Falcons[edit]

Week Three: San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 0 10 0 7 17
Falcons 17 7 10 0 34

at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • SF -
  • ATL -
Turnovers
  • SF - 3
  • ATL - 0

Week 4 vs. New Orleans Saints[edit]

Week Four: New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Saints 7 0 0 7 14
49ers 0 7 7 7 21

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • NO -
  • SF -
Turnovers
  • NO - 4
  • SF - 2

Week 5 at Washington Redskins[edit]

Week Five: San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 14 10 6 0 30
Redskins 0 3 0 14 17

at RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
  • SF - Dwight Hicks 32 yard interception return - (kick failed) 49ers 30–3
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • SF -
  • WSH -
Turnovers
  • SF - 2
  • WSH - 6

Week 6 vs. Dallas Cowboys[edit]

Week Six: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys 0 7 0 7 14
49ers 21 3 14 7 45

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • DAL -
  • SF -
Turnovers
  • DAL - 4
  • SF - 1

Week 7 at Green Bay Packers[edit]

Week Seven: San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 0 3 7 3 13
Packers 0 3 0 0 3

at Milwaukee County Stadium, Milwaukee, WI

Game information
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • SF -
  • GB -
Turnovers
  • SF - 1
  • GB - 1

Week 8 vs. Los Angeles Rams[edit]

Week Eight: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Rams 0 10 7 0 17
49ers 14 3 3 0 20

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • LA -
  • SF -
Turnovers
  • LA - 1
  • SF - 0

Week 9 at Pittsburgh Steelers[edit]

Week Nine: San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 0 10 0 7 17
Steelers 0 0 14 0 14

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA

Game information
Second Quarter
Third Qaurter
  • PIT - Mel Blount 50 yard interception return - (David Trout kick) 49ers 10–7
  • PIT - Jim Smith 22 yard pass from Terry Bradshaw - (David Trout kick) Steelers 14–10
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • SF -
  • PIT -
Turnovers
  • SF - 2
  • PIT - 6

Week 10 vs. Atlanta Falcons[edit]

Week Ten: Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Falcons 0 0 7 7 14
49ers 0 10 0 7 17

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California

Game information
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • ATL -
  • SF -
Turnovers
  • ATL - 3
  • SF - 1

Week 11 vs. Cleveland Browns[edit]

Week Eleven: Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Browns 2 3 0 10 15
49ers 0 6 6 0 12

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California

Game information
First Quarter
  • CLE - Safety, intentional grounding by Joe Montana in end zone - Browns 2–0
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • CLE -
  • SF -
Turnovers
  • CLE - 2
  • SF - 2

Week 12 at Los Angeles Rams[edit]

Week Twelve: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 3 7 17 6 33
Rams 0 17 7 7 31

at Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim, California

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • SF -
  • LA -
Turnovers
  • SF - 2
  • LA - 2

Week 13 vs. New York Giants[edit]

Week Thirteen: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Giants 0 3 0 7 10
49ers 7 7 0 3 17

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • NYG -
  • SF -
Turnovers
  • NYG - 5
  • SF - 0

Week 14 at Cincinnati Bengals[edit]

Week Fourteen: San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 7 7 0 7 21
Bengals 0 3 0 0 3

at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • SF -
  • CIN -
Turnovers
  • SF - 1
  • CIN - 6

Week 15 vs. Houston Oilers[edit]

Week Fifteen: Houston Oilers at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Oilers 0 0 0 6 6
49ers 0 0 21 7 28

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California

Game information
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • HOU -
  • SF -
Turnovers
  • HOU - 2
  • SF - 0

Week 16 at New Orleans Saints[edit]

Week Sixteen: San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 7 7 0 7 21
Saints 14 0 3 0 17

at Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • SF -
  • NO -
Turnovers
  • SF - 3
  • NO - 1

Game officials[edit]

Week Opponent Referee Umpire Head Linesman Line Judge Back Judge Side Judge Field Judge
1 at Detroit Lions (19) Tom Dooley (12) Dave Hamilton (7) Tony Veteri (20) Jim Osborne (9) Banks Williams (8) Grover Klemmer (14) Jack Vaughn
2 Chicago Bears (15) Bob Frederic (3) Lou Palazzi (17) Jerry Bergman (16) Bob Beeks (20) Bob Swanson (14) Ron Murphy (6) Don Hakes
3 at Atlanta Falcons (14) Gene Barth (5) Bob Boylston (18) Burl Toler (3) Bob McLaughlin (15) J.W. Sanders (9) Dean Look (7) Fritz Graf
4 New Orleans Saints (7) Fred Silva (15) Ralph Morcroft (20) Frank Glover (19) Vern Marshall (12) Jim Kearney (22) Merrill Douglas (10) Don Orr
5 at Washington Redskins (20) Gordon McCarter (22) Ron Botchan (14) Earnie Frantz (9) Jack Fette (10) Jimmy Rosser (18) Ron DeSuzza (11) Armen Terzian
6 Dallas Cowboys (3) Jim Tunney (8) Pat Harder (25) Sid Semon (8) Dick McKenzie (11) Pat Knight (5) Gil Mace (24) Johnny Grier
7 vs. Green Bay Packers (at Milwaukee) (12) Ben Dreith (10) Tom Myers (8) Dale Williams (11) Bill Reynolds (8) Don Wedge (4) Ed Ward (16) Pat Mallette
8 Los Angeles Rams (4) Pat Haggerty (9) Dave Moss (10) Terry Gierke (24) Walt Peters (16) Jim Poole (15) Dick Creed (18) Bob Lewis
9 at Pittsburgh Steelers (15) Bob Frederic (3) Lou Palazzi (17) Jerry Bergman (16) Bob Beeks (20) Bill Swanson (14) Ron Murphy (6) Don Hakes
10 Atlanta Falcons (11) Fred Wyant (19) Tom Hensley (6) Ed Marion (4) Wilson Gosier (18) Dick Hantak (25) Vince Jacob (12) Bob Wortman
11 Cleveland Browns (18) Chuck Heberling (11) Gordon Wells (15) Ray Dodez (17) Dale Orem (14) Al Jury (24) Duwayne Gandy (19) Charley Musser
12 at Los Angeles Rams (8) Red Cashion (14) Art Demmas (16) Jack Johnson (25) Neil Gereb (4) Ben Tompkins (3) Nate Jones (15) Dick Ferguson
13 New York Giants (9) Jerry Markbreit (17) Ed Fiffick (12) Dale Hamer (15) Bama Glass (7) Tom Kelleher (6) Willie Spencer (5) Bill Stanley
14 at Cincinnati Bengals (17) Jerry Seeman (20) Frank Sinkovitz (3) Leo Miles (6) John Leimbach (23) Paul Baetz (7) Bill Quinby (9) Bill O'Brien
15 Houston Oilers (6) Dick Jorgensen (4) John Keck (9) Ligouri Hagerty (22) Boyce Smith (17) Roy Clymer (16) Royal Cathcart (3) Dick Dolack
16 at New Orleans Saints (14) Gene Barth (5) Bob Boylston (18) Burl Toler (3) Bob McLaughlin (15) J.W. Sanders (9) Dean Look (7) Fritz Graf

Standings[edit]

NFC West
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
San Francisco 49ers(1) 13 3 0 .813 5–1 10–2 357 250 W5
Atlanta Falcons 7 9 0 .438 3–3 6–6 426 355 L3
Los Angeles Rams 6 10 0 .375 2–4 5–7 303 351 L1
New Orleans Saints 4 12 0 .250 2–4 2–10 207 378 L4

Postseason[edit]

Round Date Opponent Result Score Stadium Attendance Time Network National Radio
NFC Divisional Playoff January 3, 1982 New York Giants W 38–24 Candlestick Park 58,360 2:00 PM PST CBS CBS
NFC Championship Game January 10, 1982 Dallas Cowboys W 28–27 Candlestick Park 60,525 2:00 PM PST CBS CBS
Super Bowl XVI January 24, 1982 vs. Cincinnati Bengals (at Pontiac, MI) W 26–21 Pontiac Silverdome 81,270 1:00 PM PST CBS CBS

Notes:

a All times in Pacific Time Zone.

NFC Divisional Playoff[edit]

The Giants were making their first appearance in the postseason since 1963. First year starting quarterback Joe Montana led the 49ers to victory in his first ever playoff game, completing 20 of 31 passes for 304 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 1 interception. His top target in the game was receiver Dwight Clark, who caught 5 passes for 104 yards.

NFC Divisional Playoff: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Giants 7 3 7 7 24
49ers 7 17 0 14 38

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • NYG -
  • SF -
Turnovers
  • NYG - 4
  • SF - 1

NFC Championship Game[edit]

The 49ers were making their third appearance in the NFC Championship Game. Their opponent was their opponent for the two previous NFC Championship Games-the Dallas Cowboys. In both previous matches, the 49ers had lost the game. The game is remembered for "The Catch". The play, remembered in 49er lore as "Red Right Tight—Sprint Right Option" had called for both the primary receiver, Solomon, and Dwight Clark to line up on the right. Montana was supposed to roll to his right and find Solomon. Clark's pattern called for him to cut left across the end zone, stop, and immediately reverse his path to the right. If Solomon were covered, it would be up to Montana to find Clark. Due to the pressure, Montana's pass was high, but Clark was in position to make his memorable grab. Future New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who grew up in the Bay Area, attended the game as a four-year-old. The 49ers were victorious despite an astonishing six turnovers, including three interceptions by Joe Montana.

A photograph of the catch, with Clark at the height of his leap and Everson Walls reaching out to try to block the ball, was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated the following week.

NFC Championship Game: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys 10 7 0 10 27
49ers 7 7 7 7 28

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • DAL -
  • SF -
Turnovers
  • DAL - 3
  • SF - 6

Super Bowl XVI[edit]

Super Bowl XVI: San Francisco 49ers vs. Cincinnati Bengals – Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 7 13 0 6 26
Bengals 0 0 7 14 21

at Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan

Game information
First Quarter
Second Quarter
Third Quarter
Fourth Quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers
Top tacklers
  • SF -
  • CIN -
Turnovers
  • SF - 1
  • CIN - 4

Game officials[edit]

Round Opponent Referee Umpire Head Linesman Line Judge Back Judge Side Judge Field Judge Alternates
NFC Divisional Playoff New York Giants (12) Ben Dreith (12) Dave Hamilton (15) Ray Dodez (9) Jack Fette (9) Banks Williams (4) Ed Ward (14) Jack Vaughn (16) Jack Johnson
NFC Championship Game Dallas Cowboys (3) Jim Tunney (5) Bob Boylston (6) Ed Marion (16) Bob Beeks (5) Ray Douglas (9) Dean Look (20) Ed Merrifield (20) Gordon McCarter
(9) Dave Moss
Super Bowl XVI vs. Cincinnati Bengals (at Pontiac, MI) (4) Pat Haggerty (7) Al Conway (17) Jerry Bergman (16) Bob Beeks (20) Bill Swanson (19) Bob Rice (6) Don Hakes (14) Gene Barth
(8) Pat Harder

Awards and records[edit]

1982 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl[edit]

Main article: 1982 Pro Bowl

[4]

Media[edit]

Pre season Local TV[edit]

Channel Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
KPIX-TV

Local Radio[edit]

Flagship station Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
KCBS–AM Don Klein Wayne Walker

References[edit]

  1. ^ San Francisco 49ers 2014 Media Guide. San Francisco 49ers. p. 573-574. 
  2. ^ "1981 San Francisco 49ers starters and roster". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved November 14, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s San Francisco 49ers 2014 Media Guide. San Francisco 49ers. p. 463. 
  4. ^ San Francisco 49ers 2014 Media Guide. San Francisco 49ers. p. 531. 

External links[edit]