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49ers’ Super Bowl history: Joe Cool, John Candy and Young’s monkey

The San Francisco 49ers for a long time were the NFL’s ultimate winners. Lately, they’ve been much more likely to stumble on the sport’s largest stage.

The 49ers won the first five Super Bowls they participated in behind Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young. They were the first team in NFL history to lift five Lombardi trophies.

It’s been a long wait since their last title in 1995.

San Francisco has reached two Super Bowls this millennium but lost both. The team gets its shot at redemption when it plays the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday.

Here is a recap of the 49ers’ Super Bowl history:

Super Bowl 16 (1982): 49ers 26, Bengals 21

A dynasty was born this night.

Montana and Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh led San Francisco to its first championship, paving the way for many more to come. The 49ers built a 20-0 halftime lead, then held on as the Bengals stormed back to make it a game.

Cincinnati scored one touchdown in the third quarter, but was prevented from adding another thanks to a goal-line stand by San Francisco. The Bengals cut the deficit to 20-14 with 10:06 remaining, but the 49ers added two field goals to extend the lead. Cincinnati’s final touchdown came with 16 seconds left on the clock, and it failed to recover an onside kick.

Montana was named Super Bowl MVP for the first time — but not the last — after throwing for 157 yards and a touchdown in the victory. He did not throw an interception, something he didn’t do in any of his four Super Bowl appearances. The Bengals, on the other hand, turned the ball over four times.

Super Bowl 19 (1985): 49ers 38, Dolphins 16

Miami quarterback Dan Marino owned the regular season this year, setting since-broken records for passing yards and touchdowns in a single campaign.

Montana, however, was the one who continued to shine in the playoffs. He earned MVP honors by throwing for 331 yards, rushing for 59 more and recording four total touchdowns. The 49ers’ 537 total yards are still the fourth-most in Super Bowl history.

The Dolphins led 10-7 after the first quarter thanks to a Marino touchdown pass. San Francisco pulled away after that, scoring 21 straight points in the second quarter to take the lead for good.

Marino finished with 318 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in his lone Super Bowl appearance.

Super Bowl 23 (1989): 49ers 20, Bengals 16

“Isn’t that John Candy?”

That was Montana’s famous observation in the huddle as San Francisco started a drive down 16-13 with 3:10 left in the fourth quarter. Ever the cool customer, the quarterback cut the tension by pointing out the famous Canadian comedian.

Montana then did what he did best. He led a 92-yard touchdown drive to give his team the lead with 34 seconds remaining. It was his finest hour, and it gave Walsh his third and final Super Bowl championship.

Montana’s heroics still didn’t earn him MVP honors. Those belonged to Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice in his Super Bowl debut. Rice caught 11 passes for a Super Bowl-record 215 yards in the victory.

Super Bowl 24 (1990): 49ers 55, Broncos 10

Montana’s last Super Bowl was the most lopsided in NFL history.

San Francisco’s 55 points scored and 45-point margin of victory remain records. The 49ers scored 13 points in the first quarter, then 14 in each of the next three in the rout.

Montana was near-flawless. He completed 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns. Three of those scores went to Rice, who finished with 148 receiving yards.

Quarterback John Elway and the Broncos didn’t fight back much. They were outgained by 294 yards (461-167), also a Super Bowl record.

Super Bowl 29 (1995): 49ers 49, Chargers 26

As he watched the game wind down from the sideline, Young asked his teammates to take the monkey off his back.

The longtime 49ers backup lived in Montana’s shadow for years. When Young was given the chance to start, he wrote a legacy all his own.

The southpaw fired a Super Bowl-record six touchdown passes to go with 325 yards in the victory. Three of his touchdowns went to Rice, who earned his third championship ring.

San Francisco’s offense couldn’t be stopped all night. The 49ers scored 14 points in each of the first three quarters before settling for seven in the fourth. It remains the lone Super Bowl appearance in Chargers history.

Super Bowl 47 (2013): Ravens 34, 49ers 31

The “Harbaugh Bowl” is also known as the Super Bowl when the lights went out.

Coach John Harbaugh’s Ravens were leading younger brother Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers 28-6 in the third quarter when a power outage caused the Superdome in New Orleans to go dark. Play was halted for 38 minutes.

San Francisco looked like a new team when things were back up and running. The 49ers scored 17 straight points to close the third quarter behind quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who finished with 364 total yards.

The late charge ultimately came up short. San Francisco failed to tie the game with a 2-point conversion with 9:57 remaining. After a Baltimore field goal, the 49ers’ final drive was stopped. Kaepernick’s fourth-down pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree fell incomplete, and no flag for pass interference was thrown.

Super Bowl 54 (2020): Chiefs 31, 49ers 20

This is the loss San Francisco will try to avenge this season.

Coach Kyle Shanahan, tight end George Kittle, pass rusher Nick Bosa, wide receiver Deebo Samuel and several other standouts were part of the 49ers squad that built a 20-10 lead going into the fourth quarter of this game.

Then, they watched it all slip away.

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes finished a furious comeback by leading his offense to 21 fourth-quarter points. San Francisco’s defense, which seemed to have answers most of the game, ran out when it counted.

The 49ers also missed opportunities on offense that haunt them. An offensive pass interference call on Kittle cut short a promising drive before halftime. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw two interceptions and missed wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders on a deep pass that could have given San Francisco the lead back with 1:33 remaining.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on X.

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