Super Bowl XVI was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion San Francisco 49ers and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Cincinnati Bengals to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1981 season. The 49ers defeated the Bengals by the score of 26–21 to win their first Super Bowl.
The game was played on January 24, 1982, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. It marked the first time that a Super Bowl was held at a cold-weather city. The domed stadium saved the crowd at the game from the very cold and snowy weather, but the weather did affect traffic and other logistical issues related to the game. Super Bowl XVI also became one of the most watched broadcasts in American television history, with more than 85 million viewers, and a final national Nielsen rating of 49.1 (a 73 share).
For the first time since Super Bowl III, both teams were making their first Super Bowl appearance. The 49ers posted a 13–3 regular season record, and playoff wins over the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. The Bengals finished the regular season with a 12–4 record, and had postseason victories over the Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers.
Cincinnati's 356 yards of offense to San Francisco's 275 marked the first time in Super Bowl history that a team which was outgained in total yards won. The Bengals also committed four turnovers to San Francisco's one, which played a major factor in the outcome. Three of Cincinnati's turnovers helped San Francisco build a Super Bowl record 20–0 halftime lead, off a touchdown pass and a rushing touchdown from quarterback Joe Montana and two field goals by Ray Wersching. The Bengals began to rally in the second half with quarterback Ken Anderson's 5-yard touchdown run and 4-yard touchdown pass, but a third-quarter goal line stand by the 49ers defense and two more Wersching field goals ultimately decided the game. The Bengals managed to score their final touchdown with 20 seconds left, but could not recover the ensuing onside kick. Montana was named the Super Bowl MVP, completing 14 of 22 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing for 18 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Cincinnati tight end Dan Ross recorded a Super Bowl-record 11 receptions (still the most ever by a tight end in a Super Bowl) for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns.
|Super Bowl XVI|
|Date||January 24, 1982|
|Stadium||Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan|
|MVP||Joe Montana, quarterback|
|Favorite||49ers by 1|
|Current/Future Hall of Famers|
|49ers: Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. (owner), Bill Walsh (coach), Fred Dean, Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana|
Bengals: Forrest Gregg‡ (coach), Anthony Muñoz
‡ elected as a player.
|National anthem||Diana Ross|
|Coin toss||Bobby Layne|
|Halftime show||Up with People presents "Salute to the 1960s and Motown"|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Pat Summerall and John Madden|
|Nielsen ratings||49.1 |
(est. 85.24 million viewers)
|Cost of 30-second commercial||$324,000|
San Francisco finished the regular season with a league-best 13–3 record. The 49ers' success surprised many because they finished with a 6–10 record during the previous season, and a 2–14 record before that (they even still had home blackouts early on in the 1981 season, the last blackouts for the 49ers to date). A major reason for the team's improvement was the emergence of their young quarterback Joe Montana. In just his third season in the league, Montana completed 311 out of 488 passes (a league-leading 63.7 completion percentage) for 3,565 yards and 19 touchdowns. His favorite targets were receivers Dwight Clark (85 receptions, 1,104 yards, and 4 touchdowns) and Freddie Solomon (59 receptions, 969 yards, and 8 touchdowns), along with tight end Charle Young (37 receptions for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns). Running back Ricky Patton was the top rusher on the team with 543 yards and 4 touchdowns, while also catching 27 passes for 195 yards. Multi-talented running back Earl Cooper also provided the team with a good running and receiving threat, rushing for 330 yards and catching 51 passes for 477 yards. Much of San Francisco's success was aided by their offensive line, which featured Dan Audick (LT), John Ayers (LG), Fred Quillan (C), Randy Cross (RG), and Keith Fahnhorst (RT).
Although the 49ers had three rookies starting as defensive backs, they all were major defensive threats: Carlton Williamson recorded four interceptions, Eric Wright had three, and Ronnie Lott recorded seven interceptions and tied an NFL record by returning three of them for touchdowns. Three-year veteran defensive back Dwight Hicks led the team with nine interceptions, which he returned for 239 yards and a touchdown, giving the secondary a total of 23. Defensive end Fred Dean and linebacker Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds were big contributors up front, making it difficult for the opposing teams to rush the ball; Dean became a 49er after an in-season trade with the San Diego Chargers and piled up 12 sacks for San Francisco.
The Bengals finished with the best regular season record in the AFC at 12–4. Cincinnati was also a surprise team because, like the 49ers, they also had recorded a 6–10 record during the previous season. And prior to this year, they had never won a playoff game in their entire history.
Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson was the top rated passer in the league and won both the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. He completed 300 of 479 (62.6 percent) passes for 3,754 yards and 29 touchdowns, with only 10 interceptions. Anderson was also an outstanding scrambler, rushing for 320 yards and one touchdown, the highest rushing total among all NFL quarterbacks during the season. The Bengals main deep threat was rookie wide receiver Cris Collinsworth, who caught 67 passes for 1,009 yards and 8 touchdowns. Tight end Dan Ross had 71 receptions for 910 yards and 5 touchdowns, while wide receivers Isaac Curtis and Steve Kreider each recorded 37 receptions, combining for a total of 1,129 yards and 9 touchdowns. Fullback Pete Johnson was the leading rusher on the team with 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was also a good receiver out of the backfield, catching 46 passes for another 320 yards and 4 touchdowns. Halfback Charles Alexander was also a big contributor with 554 all-purpose yards and 28 receptions. A big reason for Cincinnati's production on offense was their line, led by future Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Muñoz and guard Max Montoya. On special teams, punter Pat McInally made the Pro Bowl with a 45.4 yards-per-punt average.
The Bengals also had a good defense that had not given up more than 30 points in any of their regular season or playoff games. Their line was anchored by defensive ends Ross Browner and Eddie Edwards, who did a great job stopping the run. Cincinnati's defense was also led by defensive backs Louis Breeden and Ken Riley, and linebackers Bo Harris, Jim LeClair, and Reggie Williams, who intercepted four passes and recovered three fumbles.
The Bengals went on earn their first playoff victory in team history by defeating the Buffalo Bills 28–21, and then defeated San Diego Chargers 27–7 in a game known as the Freezer Bowl because of the −59 wind chill conditions at Riverfront Stadium. Meanwhile, the 49ers went on to defeat the New York Giants 38–24, and then narrowly beat the Dallas Cowboys 28–27 on a last-minute touchdown pass known as The Catch.
The 49ers had handily beaten the Bengals in a December game played in Cincinnati and consequently were installed as a 2-point favorite. That said, going into Super Bowl XVI, most experts agreed that both teams were very evenly matched, but many thought Pete Johnson's rushing ability could prove to be the difference. Some also pointed out that Ken Anderson was an established 11-year veteran who had just finished the best season of his career, while the young Montana was only just starting to emerge as a top-notch quarterback. Furthermore, Anderson had advanced through the playoffs without throwing a single interception, while Montana had been intercepted 4 times, 3 of them occurring in the NFC title game.
During the season, both teams had shown impressive ball security. Cincinnati had the fewest turnovers of any team during the 1981 season with 24, while San Francisco ranked second with 25.
Cincinnati head coach Forrest Gregg became the first man to play in a Super Bowl and then be a head coach in a Super Bowl. Gregg played in Super Bowls I and II as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Tom Flores was on the Kansas City Chiefs' roster in Super Bowl IV and coached in Super Bowl XV. However, Flores did not play in Super Bowl IV.
This was the first Super Bowl to feature two first-time participants since Super Bowl III (there has been only one since, Super Bowl XX between the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots). This was also the only Super Bowl to date between two teams who had losing records the previous season, although Super Bowl XXXIV matched a team that had a losing record in 1998 (St. Louis Rams) against a team that finished a mediocre 8–8 that year (Tennessee Titans). This is the most recent Super Bowl in which both teams had never appeared in any AFL/NFL title game before the merger.
This is the only Super Bowl to have ever been played at the Pontiac Silverdome. This was also only the second of 16 Super Bowls to not take place in one of the three so-called "Big Super Bowl Cities" (the other was Houston in January 1974). Fourteen of the previous 16 Super Bowls took place in either Miami, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana or in the Greater Los Angeles Area. The Super Bowl did return to Michigan for Super Bowl XL, but that game was played at Ford Field in Detroit, which, in 2002, had replaced the Pontiac Silverdome as the home site for the Detroit Lions.
On the day of the Super Bowl, one of the 49ers buses, which had Bill Walsh and Montana on board, was stuck in traffic due to bad weather and a motorcade carrying then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. As a result, they would not arrive at the stadium until 90 minutes before kickoff time. "Coach Walsh was pretty loose on the bus," Montana told Sports Illustrated after the game. "He said, ‘I’ve got the radio on and we’re leading 7-0. The trainer’s calling the plays.’"
The game was televised in the United States by CBS and featured the broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Pat Summerall and color commentator John Madden (the latter making his Super Bowl debut as a broadcaster). The broadcast also featured the introduction of the telestrator to a national audience, that was named CBS Chalkboard. Still in use today, it enables players and areas of play to be highlighted by the superimposing of lines and rings drawn by a freehand operator.
Hosting coverage for The Super Bowl Today pregame (90 minutes), halftime, and postgame shows was the NFL Today crew of Brent Musburger; Irv Cross; Phyllis George and Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, with studio analysis from Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach. CBS, for this game, used the theme for the CBS Sports Saturday/Sunday for the intro (CBS had aired a special CBS Sports Sunday prior to the beginning of Super Bowl XVI coverage). This Super Bowl was simulcast in Canada on the CTV Television Network, which was airing the Super Bowl for the first time.
The game was one of the most watched broadcasts in American television history, with more than 85 million viewers. The final national Nielsen rating was a 49.1 (a 73 share), which is still a Super Bowl record, and ranks second to the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983 among television broadcasts in general. (Super Bowl XLV holds the record for total U.S. viewership, with an average audience of 111 million, but only earned a rating of 46.0 and a 69 share).
The game was broadcast on nationwide radio by CBS and featured the broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Jack Buck and color commentator Hank Stram. Hosting coverage for CBS was done by Dick Stockton. Locally, Super Bowl XVI was broadcast by KCBS-AM in San Francisco with Don Klein and Wayne Walker and by WLW-AM in Cincinnati with Phil Samp and Andy MacWilliams.
The pregame festivities featured the University of Michigan Band. The band later performed the Canadian National Anthem, which was not televised. Singer Diana Ross then performed the U.S. national anthem, which followed a moment of silence in support of the Polish trade union Solidarity; following the crackdown by the communist government of Poland on the pro-democracy union. This was the first of two Super Bowls, both held in Michigan, in which two national anthems were performed, and to have a joint Canadian-American armed forces color guard, which consisted of members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Camp Grayling color guards. The coin toss ceremony featured Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne.
The Bengals had the first opportunity to score early in the game. After returning the opening kickoff 17 yards, San Francisco's Amos Lawrence was hit by Bengals linebacker Guy Frazier and fumbled at his own 26-yard line (the first time in a Super Bowl that a turnover took place on the opening kick), where John Simmons recovered for Cincinnati. Quarterback Ken Anderson then started the drive off with a completion to wide receiver Isaac Curtis for 8 yards, and fullback Pete Johnson's 2-yard run then picked up a first down. Anderson followed with an 11-yard pass to tight end Dan Ross, moving the ball to the 5-yard line. However, Anderson threw an incomplete pass on first down, then was sacked by defensive end Jim Stuckey on second down for a 6-yard loss. Facing third down, Anderson tried to connect with Curtis in the end zone, but 49ers safety Dwight Hicks intercepted the ball at the 5-yard line and returned it 27 yards to the 32.
From there, quarterback Joe Montana led the 49ers offense to the Cincinnati 47-yard line with three consecutive completions. Then, the 49ers ran a fake reverse – flea flicker play that involved wide receiver Freddie Solomon and ended with Montana completing a 14-yard pass to tight end Charle Young at the 33. Three running plays and Montana's 14-yard completion to Solomon moved the ball to the 1-yard line. Finally, Montana scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak, giving San Francisco a 7–0 lead.
The Bengals threatened to score early in the second quarter when they advanced across the San Francisco 30-yard line. But after catching a 19-yard pass from Anderson at the 5-yard line, wide receiver Cris Collinsworth lost a fumble while being tackled by 49ers defensive back Eric Wright. After recovering the fumble, the 49ers drove for a Super Bowl record 92 yards, scoring on a 10-yard pass from Montana to fullback Earl Cooper, increasing their lead to 14–0. The play Cooper scored on had not been called by Bill Walsh for two years. Cooper's leaping, celebratory spike of the football after scoring became the photo Sports Illustrated used for its post-game cover.
Following the touchdown came a squib kick by kicker Ray Wersching that was finally recovered by Bengal receiver David Verser, who was quickly tackled at the 2-yard line. According to the NFL's highlight film for the game, the 49ers had discovered Wersching's ability to effectively use the squib during their 1981 season opener when a leg injury kept him from fully powering into the football; because that game was also played at the Silverdome, Bill Walsh felt that Wersching would be able to recreate the crazy bounces of a squib on the hard Astroturf by shortening his stride and seeing what happened. The Bengals could only advance to their 25 before having to punt, and with just over 4 minutes left in the half, Montana led the 49ers on another scoring drive. First, he completed a 17-yard pass to wide receiver Dwight Clark at the Cincinnati 49-yard line. Then, running back Ricky Patton ran twice, advancing the ball to the 39-yard line. Montana's next two completions to Clark (his 4th and final reception of the game) and Solomon moved the ball to the 5-yard line. But then Montana threw two straight incompletions, forcing the 49ers to settle for Wersching's 22-yard field goal to increase their lead to 17–0.
With just 15 seconds left in the half, Wersching kicked a second squib kick that was muffed by Bengals running back Archie Griffin, and the 49ers recovered the ball on the Bengals' 4-yard line. As they lined-up for a field goal attempt, a false start penalty against San Francisco pushed them back 5 yards but Wersching connected from 26 yards, increasing the 49ers' lead to 20–0, which was the largest halftime lead in Super Bowl history to that date.
After receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, the Bengals drove 83 yards in 9 plays. Charles Alexander started off the drive with a 13-yard carry, with a facemask penalty on Hicks giving an additional 5 yards. Two plays later, Anderson converted a 3rd and 4 situation with a 19-yard pass to Steve Kreider, and eventually finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 20–7. This seemed to fire up Cincinnati's defense, who limited the 49ers to only 8 plays and 4 offensive yards for the entire third quarter.
Later in the quarter, Bengals defensive back Mike Fuller's 17-yard punt return gave the Bengals the ball at midfield. Two penalties and a 4-yard sack pushed them back to their own 37, but on third down, Collinsworth's 49-yard reception from Anderson moved the ball to the San Francisco 14-yard line. Johnson then later successfully converted on a fourth down run, giving the Bengals a first down on the 3-yard line. On that play, the 49ers only had 10 players on the field because linebacker Keena Turner, who was seriously ill with chicken pox during Super Bowl week, missed a call to enter the game.
On first down, Johnson drove into the line and gained 2 yards down to the 49ers' 1-yard line. The Bengals then tried to run Johnson into the line on second down, but lost a yard when a charging rush prevented the Bengals from executing their blocking assignments. Cincinnati receiver David Verser also missed a blocking audible by Anderson. On third down, 49ers linebacker Dan Bunz made probably the key defensive play of the game. Anderson faked to Johnson and threw a swing pass out to Alexander, who was isolated on Bunz. Bunz, however, corralled Alexander at the line of scrimmage on an open-field tackle and kept him from reaching the end zone. Highlights showed that Alexander was supposed to have entered the end zone before making his cut, and his early turn prevented a touchdown pass.
After calling a timeout, rather than attempting a field goal on fourth down the Bengals sent Johnson into the middle of the line one last time. But San Francisco cornerback Ronnie Lott and linebackers Bunz and Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds tackled him for no gain, giving the ball back to the 49ers.
The 49ers only gained 8 yards on their ensuing drive, and the Bengals got the ball back after receiving Jim Miller's 44-yard punt at their own 47-yard line. Taking advantage of their great starting field position, the Bengals marched 53 yards in 7 plays and scored a touchdown on a 4-yard pass from Anderson to Ross. With the score, the deficit was cut to 20–14 with 10:06 left in the fourth quarter.
However, the 49ers countered with a 50-yard, 9-play drive that took 4:41 off the clock, and included Montana's 22-yard pass to receiver Mike Wilson and seven consecutive running plays. Wilson's reception was a play Walsh specifically designed for the Super Bowl that capitalized on the Bengals doing a long-run coverage on Wilson anytime he ran a pass route over 20 yards; Wilson simply ran 25 yards straight out and then cut back to receive Montana's precision pass. Wersching ended the drive with a 40-yard field goal to give San Francisco a 23–14 lead with just 5 minutes left.
On the Bengals' first play after receiving the ensuing kickoff, Eric Wright intercepted a pass from Anderson. After returning the interception 25 yards, Wright fumbled while being tackled by Bengals guard Max Montoya, but San Francisco linebacker Willie Harper recovered the ball at the Bengals' 22.
The 49ers then ran the ball on five consecutive plays, taking 3 minutes off the clock, to advance to the Cincinnati 6-yard line. Wersching then kicked his fourth field goal to increase the 49ers' lead to 26–14 with less than 2 minutes left in the game. Wersching's 4 field goals tied a Super Bowl record set by Green Bay Packers kicker Don Chandler in Super Bowl II. Because of his 4 field goals and the close score, this is the only Super Bowl in which the losing team scored more touchdowns than the winning team (Cincinnati 3, San Francisco 2).
Anderson completed six consecutive passes on the Bengals' ensuing drive, the last one a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ross to make the score 26–21. However, none of the receivers on Anderson's completions were able to get out of bounds to stop the clock. By the time Ross scored, only 16 seconds remained in the fourth quarter. The Bengals tried an onside kick, but Clark recovered the ball for the 49ers, allowing San Francisco to run out the clock to win the game.
The game featured several great performances by players on both teams. Montana threw for 157 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for another 18 yards and a touchdown. Wright had an interception and forced a fumble. Collinsworth caught 5 passes for 107 yards, an average of 21.4 yards per catch. Cris Collinsworth and Dan Ross became the second pair of teammates to each have 100 yards receiving in a Super Bowl. Collinsworth had 107, while Ross had 104. John Stallworth and Lynn Swann were the first to do so in Super Bowl XIII.
Fuller gained 35 yards on 4 punt returns. Ross recorded a Super Bowl record 11 receptions for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns (the most ever by a tight end in a Super Bowl) and he was tied for the most receptions in a Super Bowl with Jerry Rice (who tied Ross' record in the Super Bowl rematch), Deion Branch, and Wes Welker until Demaryius Thomas broke that record in Super Bowl XLVIII with 13 catches. Anderson finished the game with 25 out of 34 pass completions for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 2 interceptions. He also gained 14 rushing yards and a touchdown on 6 carries. Anderson's 25 completions and his 73.5 completion percentage were both Super Bowl records. Wersching scored 14 points on 4 field goals and 2 PATs. Wersching's squib kickoffs caused 2 Cincinnati fumbles; the 49ers recovered one, leading to their 2nd field goal.
|San Francisco 49ers||Cincinnati Bengals|
|First downs rushing||9||7|
|First downs passing||9||13|
|First downs penalty||2||4|
|Third down efficiency||8/15||6/12|
|Fourth down efficiency||0/0||1/2|
|Net yards rushing||127||72|
|Yards per rush||3.2||3.0|
|Passing – Completions/attempts||14/22||25/34|
|Times sacked-total yards||1–9||5–16|
|Net yards passing||148||284|
|Total net yards||275||356|
|Punt returns-total yards||1–6||4–35|
|Kickoff returns-total yards||2–40||7–52|
|Interceptions-total return yards||2–52||0–0|
|Time of possession||30:34||29:26|
1Completions/attempts 2Carries 3Long gain 4Receptions 5Times targeted
The following records were set in Super Bowl XVI, according to the official NFL.com boxscore and the ProFootball reference.com game summary.
Some records have to meet NFL minimum number of attempts to be recognized. The minimums are shown (in parenthesis).
|Player Records Set |
|Most completions, game||25||Ken Anderson|
percentage, game, (20 attempts)
|Most receptions, game||11||Dan Ross|
|Most touchdowns, game||2||Dan Ross|
|Most receiving touchdowns, game||2|
|Most kickoff returns, game||5||David Verser(Cin)|
|Most field goals made, game||4||Ray Wersching(SF)|
|Most field goals made, career||4|
|Most 40-plus yard field goals, game||1|
|Team Records Set |
|Largest halftime lead||20 pts||49ers|
|Longest touchdown scoring drive||92 yds||49ers|
|Most passes completed||25||Bengals|
|Highest completion percentage
|Most first downs||24||Bengals|
|Most points scored, second half||21 pts||Bengals|
|Most points, fourth quarter||14 pts|
|Fewest points, first half||0 pts|
|Most first downs, penalty||4|
|Most kickoff returns, game||7|
|Most field goals made||4||49ers|
|Records Set, both team totals |
|Passing, Both Teams|
|Most passes completed||39||14||25|
|First Downs, Both Teams|
|Most first downs||44||20||24|
|Most first downs, penalty||6||2||4|
|Records tied, both team totals|
|Most field goals made||4||4||0|
|Dwight Clark||WR||Cris Collinsworth|
|Dan Audick||LT||Anthony Muñoz‡|
|John Ayers||LG||Dave Lapham|
|Fred Quillan||C||Blair Bush|
|Randy Cross||RG||Max Montoya|
|Keith Fahnhorst||RT||Mike Wilson|
|Charle Young||TE||Dan Ross|
|Freddie Solomon||WR||Isaac Curtis|
|Joe Montana‡||QB||Ken Anderson|
|Ricky Patton||RB||Charles Alexander|
|Earl Cooper||FB||Pete Johnson|
|Jim Stuckey||LE||Eddie Edwards|
|Archie Reese||NT||Wilson Whitley|
|Dwaine Board||RE||Ross Browner|
|Fred Dean‡||LOLB||Bo Harris|
|Jack Reynolds||LILB||Jim LeClair|
|Bobby Leopold||RILB||Glenn Cameron|
|Keena Turner||ROLB||Reggie Williams|
|Ronnie Lott‡||LCB||Louis Breeden|
|Eric Wright||RCB||Ken Riley|
|Carlton Williamson||SS||Bobby Kemp|
|Dwight Hicks||FS||Bryan Hicks|
The 1981 Cincinnati Bengals season was the team's 14th year in professional football and its 12th with the National Football League (NFL). The team won their first AFC Championship, but lost Super Bowl XVI to San Francisco.
Cincinnati had at least a share of the AFC Central lead the entire season. On December 13, quarterback Ken Anderson threw two touchdown passes as the Bengals clinched the division with a 17–10 win over the Steelers.
Ken Anderson led the NFL in passing in 1981 with a 98.5 rating.
On January 3, 1982, the Bengals beat Buffalo, 28–21, in an AFC Divisional Playoff game. A week later, playing in their first AFC Championship Game, the Bengals defeated San Diego, 27–7, at Riverfront Stadium in a temperature of nine degrees below zero with a wind-chill factor of minus-59. This game is referred to as the Freezer Bowl.
In Super Bowl XVI on January 24, 1982, in Pontiac, Michigan, the Bengals trailed 20–0 at halftime and lost to San Francisco, 26–21.1981 NFL season
The 1981 NFL season was the 62nd regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl XVI when the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 26–21 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan.1981 San Francisco 49ers season
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 and would be "the birth of a dynasty", when the 49ers began their decade of dominance. The 49ers drew an average home attendance of 54,398 in the 1981 NFL season.
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.Brian Peets
Brian Canvin Peets (born July 15, 1956) is a former American football tight end who played three seasons in the National Football League with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. He played college football at the University of the Pacific and attended Linden High School in Linden, California. He was a member of the San Francisco 49ers team that won Super Bowl XVI.Craig Puki
Craig Alan Puki (born January 18, 1957) is a former American football linebacker who played two seasons in the National Football League (NFL) with the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Cardinals He was drafted by the 49ers in the third round of the 1980 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Tennessee and attended Glacier High School in Seattle. He was a member of the San Francisco 49ers team that won Super Bowl XVI.Dan Bunz
Dan Bunz (born October 7, 1955) is a former American Football linebacker who played for the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions of the National Football League in an eight-year career that lasted from 1978 to 1985.
Bunz played at California State University, Long Beach and Oakmont High School before being drafted in the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the 49ers. He had a small role in the 1979 movie North Dallas Forty. He has been teaching physical education at Sutter Middle School, in Sacramento, California for over 22 years.Dwaine Board
Dwaine P. Board (born November 29, 1956) is a defensive line coach for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League. He is also a former American football defensive end who played for the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints from 1979 to 1988.
Board played college football at North Carolina A&T State University and was drafted in the fifth round of the 1979 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they released him in the preseason and signed with the 49ers. In his 10 NFL seasons, Board recorded 45 sacks and 9 fumble recoveries. He was a member of the San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl winning teams; Super Bowl XVI, Super Bowl XIX and Super Bowl XXIII as a player, and Super Bowl XXIX as a coach.
On March 25, 2015, he was hired as the defensive line coach for Seattle Seahawks.Fred Quillan
Frederick David Quillan (January 27, 1956 – September 12, 2016) was an American football offensive lineman who played in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers from 1978 through 1987. He appeared in two Super Bowls: Super Bowl XVI and Super Bowl XIX and won both. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection. Quillan played college football at the University of Oregon.Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds
Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds (born November 22, 1947) is an American former football player who played for the University of Tennessee, and started out as a fullback and changed to linebacker. He was a first-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1970 NFL Draft and played there 11 years before going to the San Francisco 49ers in 1981. He played with the Niners four more years and won two Super Bowls with them: Super Bowl XVI and Super Bowl XIX. He wore the number 64 throughout his career. He played in a total of 13 postseason games. Reynolds currently splits his time between a house in Miami and another in the Caribbean.
Reynolds earned his nickname in 1969 by cutting an abandoned 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air (some accounts claim it was a Porsche) in half with a hacksaw after his previously unbeaten University of Tennessee team returned from an embarrassing 38-0 road loss to Ole Miss. "I came back to school and I was very upset," Reynolds said. "I had to do something to relieve my frustration." He decided to turn the abandoned car into a trailer for his newly purchased Jeep. After working through the night on the project, chewing through 13 hacksaw blades, he returned the next day with some teammates to show off his handiwork. However, when they arrived, both halves of the car were gone. For the remainder of his career, the nickname stuck. Reynolds appeared in a non-speaking role in the Simpsons episode "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday" when Dan Marino calls him and another football player named "Bubba" on Homer for picking a pass meant for Bart.
As teammates have said he lived above a shop and kept his jersey, eyeblack and helmet on, and sometimes when they would go to breakfast on game day he would show up wearing his jersey, helmet and Eye black.Jim Looney
James Looney Jr. (born August 18, 1957) is a former American football linebacker who played one season with the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. He played college football at Purdue University and attended Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, California. Looney was also a member of the Arizona Wranglers and Chicago Blitz of the United States Football League. He was a member of the San Francisco 49ers team that won Super Bowl XVI.Jim Stuckey
James Davis Stuckey (born June 21, 1958) is a former American college and professional football player who was a defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons during the 1980s. Stuckey played college football for Clemson University, and was recognized as an All-American. A first-round pick in the 1980 NFL Draft, he played professionally for the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets of the NFL.
Stuckey was born in Cayce, South Carolina. He attended Airport High School in West Columbia, South Carolina. While there from 1972-76 he played middle linebacker and tight end.
Stuckey attended Clemson University, and played for the Clemson Tigers football team from 1976 to 1979. As a senior in 1979, he earned consensus first-team All-American honors.
He was drafted in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft by the 49ers. He was a member of the San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl XVI and Super Bowl XIX winning teams. One of his more notable accomplishments was sealing a victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the 1981 NFC title game by recovering a fumble from quarterback Danny White with less than thirty seconds left in the game. However, this is not well known to most NFL fans, as it was preceded by The Catch, which was caught by his college teammate Dwight Clark, one of the most famous plays in NFL Lore.John Ayers
John Ayers (April 14, 1953 – October 2, 1995) was a National Football League offensive lineman from 1977 through 1987. During that span, he appeared in two Super Bowls: Super Bowl XVI and Super Bowl XIX for the San Francisco 49ers. Ayers was a key contributor on the final 89-yard drive that led to the play that has been immortalized as "The Catch" in the 1982 NFC Playoffs versus the Dallas Cowboys.
John Ayers played college football at West Texas A&M University. He was also a member of the 1987 Denver Broncos team that lost Super Bowl XXII, but did not appear in that game.
Ayers also served for a brief period as the figurehead President of Bill Watts' Universal Wrestling Federation.
Ayers was diagnosed with liver cancer and died on October 2, 1995.
His daughter, Jolee, was a scholarship basketball player at Texas Tech University.John Choma (American football)
John Gregory Choma (born February 9, 1955) is a former American football offensive linemen who played three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round of the 1978 NFL Draft but later released. He played college football at the University of Virginia and attended Normandy High School in Parma, Ohio. He was a member of the San Francisco 49ers team that won Super Bowl XVI.List of Super Bowl halftime shows
Halftime shows are a tradition during American football games at all levels of competition. Entertainment during the Super Bowl, the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), represents a fundamental link to pop culture, which helps broaden the television audience and nationwide interest. As the Super Bowl itself is typically the most-watched event on television in the United States annually, the halftime show has been equally-viewed in recent years: the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIX featuring Katy Perry was viewed by 118.5 million, as part of an overall telecast that peaked at 120.3 million at its conclusion—the most-watched television broadcast in U.S. history. The NFL announced that the Super Bowl LI halftime show, with Lady Gaga was the "most-watched musical event of all-time," citing a figure of 150 million viewers based on the television audience, as well as unique viewership of video postings of the halftime show on the league's platforms, and social media interactions (a metric that was never calculated prior to 2017). The show was seen by 117.5 million television viewers, making it the second-highest-rated halftime show on network broadcast.Prior to the early 1990s, the halftime show was based around a theme, and featured university marching bands (the Grambling State University Marching Band has performed at the most Super Bowl halftime shows, featuring in six shows including at least one per decade from the 1960s to the 1990s), drill teams, and other performance ensembles such as Up with People. Beginning in 1991, the halftime show began to feature pop music acts such as New Kids on the Block and Gloria Estefan. In an effort to boost the prominence of the halftime show to increase viewer interest, Super Bowl XXVII featured a headlining performance by Michael Jackson. After Super Bowl XXXVIII, whose halftime show featured an incident where Justin Timberlake exposed one of Janet Jackson's breasts, the halftime show began to feature classic rock acts until the return of headlining pop musicians in 2011.Lynn Thomas (American football)
Ronald Lynn Thomas (born July 9, 1959) is a former American football defensive back who played two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth round of the 1981 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Pittsburgh and attended Pascagoula High School in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Thomas was also a member of the Oakland Invaders of the United States Football League. He was a member of the San Francisco 49ers team that won Super Bowl XVI.Paul Hofer
Paul Hofer (born May 13, 1952 in Memphis, Tennessee) is a former professional American football player who played running back for six seasons in the NFL. He was a part of the San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl XVI winning team.
Known for his hard and relentless running style, Hofer was a fan favorite despite being on poor 49ers teams in the mid to late 1970s. Hofer was a brutal, attacking runner who suffered serious knee injuries that ultimately shortened his career. Hofer saw limited duty during the 1981 season but was placed on injured reserve before season's end; he was unable to play in the playoffs or the Super Bowl. He retired soon thereafter.Ricky Churchman
Richard Cecil Churchman (born March 14, 1958) is a former American football defensive back who played two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the 49ers in the fourth round of the 1980 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Texas at Austin and attended Pearland High School in Pearland, Texas. He was a member of the San Francisco 49ers team that won Super Bowl XVI.Ricky Patton
Ricky Patton (born April 6, 1954) is a former professional American football player who played running back for five seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, and San Francisco 49ers. He started in Super Bowl XVI for the 49ers.Patton was born in Flint, Michigan, and is currently living in Mableton GA.Walt Easley
Walter Edward Easley (September 8, 1957 – February 14, 2013) was a fullback in the NFL and USFL.
He played his college football for the West Virginia Mountaineers, running for 1,773 yards and 19 touchdowns. In the NFL, he played two years for the San Francisco 49ers and was a member of the Super Bowl XVI championship team. With the 49ers, he rushed for 235 yards on 81 carries and caught nine passes for 62 yards. He later played for the Chicago Blitz and Pittsburgh Maulers in the USFL.
San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl XVI champions
|Division championships (19)|
|Conference championships (6)|
|League championships (5)|
|Current league affiliations|
|Former league affiliation|
All-America Football Conference (1946–1949)
Championship seasons in bold
|Culture and lore|
|Division championships (9)|
|Conference championships (2)|
|Current league affiliations|
|Former league affiliation|
Championship seasons in bold
National Football League Championship Games (1933–present)
|NFL Championship Game|
|AFL Championship Game|
|AFL-NFL World Championship Games |
1 – From 1966 to 1969, the first four Super Bowls were "World Championship" games played between two independent professional football leagues, AFL and NFL, and when the league merged in 1970 the Super Bowl became the NFL Championship Game.
2 – Dates in the list denote the season, not the calendar year in which the championship game was played. For instance, Super Bowl XLI was played in 2007, but was the championship for the 2006 season.
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