Ranking top 49ers plays in franchise's storied history: No. 10-6
10. Rice's record-breaker
Jim Brown’s record of 126 career touchdowns stood for 30 years. Jerry Rice placed his name atop the all-time list on Sept. 5, 1994, against the Los Angeles Raiders at Candlestick Park.
Rice got the 49ers going in the first quarter with a 69-yard touchdown catch from Steve Young. Early in the fourth quarter, he put the game completely out of reach with a 23-yard touchdown run. But coach George Seifert gave Rice an opportunity to break the record in front of a Monday Night Football audience.
With just four minutes remaining in the game, Young dropped back and lofted a ball to the deep middle of the field. Rice rose between two defenders and came down with a 38-yard reception for the 127th touchdown of his career.
Rice has held the top spot in NFL history since that night. He finished his career 10 years later with a total of 208 touchdowns.
9. The Dre Play
The NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs were on the line. And it all came down to the closing seconds of the 49ers' Week 17 game against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 29, 2019.
The 49ers had never beaten a Russell Wilson-led team on the road. And this game came down to a fourth-and-goal from the 49ers’ 5-yard line. The Seahawks challenged 49ers rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw. And he came through.
Tight end Jacob Hollister caught a pass from Wilson at the goal line, and Greenlaw read the play perfectly. He made a high hit on Hollister to prevent him from bending over and extending the ball beyond the goal line. Greenlaw’s tackle stopped Hollister just inches shy of the goal line to enable the 49ers to hold on for a 26-21 victory.
With home-field advantage, the 49ers rolled through the NFC with a pair of 17-point playoff wins at Levi's Stadium and onto the Super Bowl.
8. Vernon Post shakes 'The Stick'
Quarterback Alex Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, experienced many bad times. But on Jan. 14, 2012, he had his shining moment with the organization in a divisional-round playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.
In the back-and-forth battle, Smith put the 49ers ahead with 2:11 remaining on a 28-yard quarterback sweep. But the Saints scored a go-ahead touchdown less than a minute later.
Smith led the 49ers down the field and made a great throw to tight end Vernon Davis on a post pattern at the goal line. Davis was met by Saints safety Roman Harper as the ball arrived. But Davis held on for the catch that sent the crowd at Candlestick Park into hysterics with the 36-32 victory.
7. Young 'gets away again'
The quintessential Steve Young moment occurred on Oct. 30, 1988, against the Minnesota Vikings and their top-ranked defense at Candlestick Park. Radio play-by-play announcer Lon Simmons described it perfectly.
"Young, back to throw. In trouble, he's going to be sacked. No! Gets away. He runs,” Simmons said, his voice building with excitement. “Gets away again! Goes to the 40. Gets away again! To the 35. Cuts back at the 30, to the 20, the 15, the 10, he dives. Touchdown 49ers!"
Young’s 49-yard touchdown run, which ended with him stumbling across the goal line, provided the 49ers with the go-ahead points with 1:58 remaining in the 49ers’ 24-21 victory over the Vikings.
6. Hearst's OT run
The 49ers and New York Jets traded scores for 60 minutes and went to overtime tied at 30-30 in the 1998 season opener on Candlestick Point.
The Jets possessed the ball twice in OT, then the 49ers took over at their own 4-yard line. Coach Steve Mariucci called a trap play designed to get the 49ers a little more space to operate. Offensive line coach Bobb McKittrick later said if every block is made exactly right, the play can get 8 to 10 yards.
Garrison Hearst had other ideas. Left guard Ray Brown made a tremendous trap block, then Hearst slipped through two would-be tacklers just 3 yards downfield. Then, he tossed Jets free safety, Kevin Williams, aside with a stiff arm.
Left tackle Dave Fiore caught up Hearst 15 yards down the field and ran interference with him the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Terrell Owens, who was lined up on the other side of the formation, hustled down the field and made the key block on 280-pound defensive end Anthony Pleasant.
And with linebacker Mo Lewis on his back, Hearst fell into the end zone for the game-winning 96-yard touchdown – the longest run in franchise history and one of the best runs in NFL history.