One of the greatest 49er games I ever attended at the legendary Candlestick Park (At the time 3Com Park…) was back in 2001 when the 49ers faced the Philadelphia Eagles and a young Donovan McNabb. In this game was one of the greatest defensive goal line stands ever in the NFL.
The stand was an amazing 6 consecutive stops inside the 2 yard line early in the fourth quarter. What was even more amazing about this stand was the fact that the Niners were penalized on the 4th stop (4th Down) which resulted in a fresh set of downs for the Eagles at the 1 yard line.
“The game hinged on the goal-line stand, one that evoked memories of the stand the 49ers made against Cincinnati in Super Bowl XVI in 1982 on their way to the franchise’s first world title.
On the stand’s second play, the Eagles had a 2nd-and-goal at the 49ers’ 1. A Duce Staley run cost them a yard and then a McNabb pass to James Thrash got back that yard.
On 4th-and-goal from the 1, McNabb rolled right and peered into the end zone at a maze of red and gold. He was forced out of bounds at the 1. The crowd erupted in bedlam, not noticing the yellow flag hurled at the ankles of the 49ers’ defenders in the end zone. (I remember being pissed at this point..)
Seconds later, referee Tony Corrente charged safety Lance Schulters with defensive holding. The crowd rose to its feet (it was loud!) as Bryant Young, Reggie McGrew, Dana Stubblefield and Andre Carter stood over the football, waiting for the Eagles’ offense.
McGrew and rookie linebacker Jamie Winborn stopped Staley for no gain on consecutive plays. Then, McNabb threw an ill-advised pass into the center of the end zone. Smith clutched the ball to his chest and hit the ground for a touchback.”
It was truly an incredible sequence and game to witness and the energy from the crowd really played a vital part in helping the defense make the stops. Looking forward to another exciting and final season at the Stick for the 49ers.