Most heartbreaking moments in San Francisco 49ers history
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Most heartbreaking moments in San Francisco 49ers history

49ers

Even the most celebrated franchises in NFL history have their share of heartbreak. In this feature, we take a look back at the most gut-wrenching moments that will forever be remembered by the San Francisco 49ers faithful.

Ravens, Superdome, Turn the Lights Out

The Colin Kaepernick-led Niners came into Super Bowl XLVII as four-point favorites versus the Baltimore Ravens. However, it was the purple and black feasting on San Francisco at every turn, punctuated by a Jacoby Jones 108-yard kickoff return to give Baltimore a 28-6 advantage to open the second half of play.

Circumstances were looking doom and gloom for the 49ers, literally and figuratively, when a power outage caused lights to out inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for 34 minutes. But as irony would have it, the temporary halt in action was the big spark the 49ers needed to rally themselves back in the ball game. 

Kaepernick went to work and was responsible two touchdown plays, the latter of which cut the Ravens’ deficit to two with under ten minutes remaining in the game. Baltimore responded with a 38-yard field goal from Justin Tucker to set up Super Bowl XLVII’s thrilling finish.

The Niners managed to go all the way to the Ravens’ seven-yard line and four chances to score the go-ahead touchdown. Head coach Jim Harbaugh called three plays for Kaepernick to look for Michael Crabtree, but San Francisco could not cash in each time, and Baltimore came walking away with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

It was the 49ers’ first-ever Super Bowl defeat in six appearances.

Mahomes, Chiefs, Rain on 49ers’ Parade

San Francisco’s Super Bowl LIV berth came off as a surprise among the NFL community since the Niners were coming off a less than desirable 4-12 record just the year prior. Much of the credit was given to the 49ers’ stellar defense and Jimmy Garoppolo’s breakout season that set the stage for a showdown with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

As expected, it was a back-and-forth encounter with both teams tied at 10 at the half. The Niners managed to build a 10-point lead heading in the fourth quarter, and it looked like the Vince Lombardi Trophy was heading back to the Bay Area for the first time in 25 years.

But then, the Niners witnessed firsthand why Mahomes was regarded as one of the most explosive players in the NFL. The Chiefs quarterback rallied his offense as Kansas City went on to score 21 straight points and erase the 49ers’ Super Bowl aspirations in just one quarter.

End of An Era

Joe Montana and his 49ers were gunning for the elusive Super Bowl three-peat as the 1990 season came along. Standing in the way of that daunting task were the New York Giants at the extremely physical NFC Championship Game.

In what would turn out to be one of the most pivotal plays in 49ers history, an unsuspecting Montana was tackled hard by Giants defensive end Leonard Marshall which left the Hall of Fame quarterback lying in the ground for a few minutes. Montana, though, being the fighter that he is, momentarily remained in the ball game, even finding John Taylor in the end zone for a seven-point lead.

New York managed to keep themselves in the match courtesy of Matt Bahr, who has been steadily drilling field goals throughout as the game reached the final stretch, with the Giants trailing 13-12 with under three minutes to play.

Working with a fresh set of downs and in Giants territory, the strategy for backup Steve Young and the 49ers was simple; keep the ball in the ground and shave off some time to keep San Francisco’s dreams of a three-peat going.

However, the Giants’ stout defense had other ideas. Erik Howard came barging in at Roger Craig to force a crucial fumble, with Lawrence Taylor scooping in to give New York one more shot at victory at the fabled Candlestick Park. The Giants grinded it out for a decent field position, and a clutch field goal by Bahr all but ended the Niners’ dominance in the 1980s.