1981 San Francisco 49ers Season
Get 1981 San Francisco 49ers Season essential facts below. View Videos or join the 1981 San Francisco 49ers Season discussion. Add 1981 San Francisco 49ers Season to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
1981 San Francisco 49ers Season
1981 San Francisco 49ers season
Head coachBill Walsh
General managerBill Walsh
Home fieldCandlestick Park
Results
Record13-3
Division place1st NFC West
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (Giants) 38-24
Won NFC Championship (Cowboys) 28-27
Won Super Bowl XVI (Bengals) 26-21
Uniform
49ers uniforms12.png
The 49ers playing against the Bengals in Super Bowl XVI.

The 1981 San Francisco 49ers season was the franchise's 32nd season in the National Football League, their 36th overall and their third under 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",[1] 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. The 49ers were undefeated in Super Bowls until Super Bowl XLVII.

Offseason

NFL Draft

A turning point for the franchise was the drafting of safety Ronnie Lott from the University of Southern California. Lott would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Round Pick Player Position College
1 8 Ronnie Lott CB USC
2 36(Choice from Washington) John Harty DT Iowa
2 Choice to Chicago
2 40(Choice from Chicago) Eric Wright CB Missouri
3 65 Carlton Williamson SS Pittsburgh
4 Choice to Dallas
5 121 Lynn Thomas CB Pittsburgh
5 122(Choice from Chicago) Arrington Jones RB Winston-Salem State
6 147 Pete Kugler DT Penn State
7 Choice to Philadelphia
8 203 Garry White RB Minnesota
9 Choice to Cincinnati
10 Choice to Baltimore
11 286 Ron DeBose TE UCLA
12 313 Major Ogilvie RB Alabama
12 322(Choice from Pittsburgh) Joe Adams QB Tennessee State

[2]

Training Camp

The 1981 San Francisco 49ers season held training camp at Sierra College in Rocklin, California.

Personnel

Staff

Roster

[3]

Pre season

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Game site Attendance Game
recap
1 August 5 at Seattle Seahawks W 27-24 (OT) 1-0 Kingdome
56,958
Recap
2 August 15 San Diego Chargers L 28-31 1-1 Candlestick Park
41,667
Recap
3 August 22 Seattle Seahawks W 24-22 2-1 Candlestick Park
37,563
Recap
4 August 29 at Oakland Raiders L 7-21 2-2
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
51,192
Recap

Regular season

With the offense in good shape, Walsh and the 49ers focused on overhauling the defense in 1981. Walsh took the highly unusual step of overhauling his entire secondary with rookies and untested players, bringing on board Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright and Carlton Williamson and giving Dwight Hicks a prominent role. He also acquired veteran linebacker Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds and veteran defensive lineman and sack specialist Fred Dean.

These new additions, when added to existing defensive mainstays like Keena Turner, turned the 49ers into a dominant team. After a 1-2 start, the 49ers won all but one of their final games to finish with a 13-3 record, easily the best record in the team's history. Additionally, the 49ers defense yielded more than 20 points in only three games. Dean and Hicks made the Pro Bowl. The 49ers selection of Lott in the 1981 NFL Draft proved to be a seminal one. In addition to making the NFC Pro Bowl roster, Lott was voted First Team All-Pro and received nods from all 5 newspapers that voted, a significant honor for a rookie. Giants' linebacker Lawrence Taylor was the only other rookie from the 1981 NFL Draft to achieve this unanimous selection to the First Team All-Pro unit.

Led by Montana, the unusual offense was centered around the short passing game, which Walsh used as ball control. Both Dwight Clark and Freddie Solomon had excellent years receiving; Clark as the possession receiver, and Solomon as more of a deep threat. The 49ers running game, however, was among the weakest for any champion in NFL history. Ricky Patton led the 49ers with only 543 yards rushing. The 49ers' most valuable running back, however, might have been Earl Cooper, whose strength was as a pass-catching back (he had 51 catches during the season).

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Game site Attendance Game
recap
1 September 6 at Detroit Lions L 17-24 0-1 Pontiac Silverdome 63,710 Recap
2 September 13 Chicago Bears W 28-17 1-1 Candlestick Park
49,520
Recap
3 September 20 at Atlanta Falcons L 17-34 1-2 Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
56,653
Recap
4 September 27 New Orleans Saints W 21-14 2-2 Candlestick Park 44,433 Recap
5 October 4 at Washington Redskins W 30-17 3-2 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium 51,843 Recap
6 October 11 Dallas Cowboys W 45-14 4-2 Candlestick Park 57,574 Recap
7 October 18 at Green Bay Packers W 13-3 5-2 Milwaukee County Stadium 50,171 Recap
8 October 25 Los Angeles Rams W 20-17 6-2 Candlestick Park 59,190 Recap
9 November 1 at Pittsburgh Steelers W 17-14 7-2 Three Rivers Stadium 52,878 Recap
10 November 8 Atlanta Falcons W 17-14 8-2 Candlestick Park 59,127 Recap
11 November 15 Cleveland Browns L 12-15 8-3 Candlestick Park 52,455 Recap
12 November 22 at Los Angeles Rams W 33-31 9-3 Anaheim Stadium 63,456 Recap
13 November 29 New York Giants W 17-10 10-3 Candlestick Park 57,186 Recap
14 December 6 at Cincinnati Bengals W 21-3 11-3 Riverfront Stadium 56,796 Recap
15 December 13 Houston Oilers W 28-6 12-3 Candlestick Park 55,707 Recap
16 December 20 at New Orleans Saints W 21-17 13-3 Louisiana Superdome 43,639 Recap

Game summaries

Week 1 at Detroit Lions

Week 2 vs. Chicago Bears

Week 3 at Atlanta Falcons

Joe Montana was intercepted twice in 34 passes (24 completed) as the Niners fell to the Falcons for the eleventh time in the last eight seasons.

Week 4 vs. New Orleans Saints

Week 5 at Washington Redskins

Week 6 vs. Dallas Cowboys

Week 7 at Green Bay Packers

Week 8 vs. Los Angeles Rams

Week 9 at Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 10 vs. Atlanta Falcons

Week 11 vs. Cleveland Browns

The Niners' winning streak ended in a battle of nine combined field goals. Opposing quarterbacks Brian Sipe and Montana combined for 393 yards, three interceptions, and an average passer rating of 56.

Week 12 at Los Angeles Rams

The game lead tied or changed eight times as the Rams wound up using quarterbacks Dan Pastorini and Pat Haden while running back Mike Guman threw a seven yard touchdown to Preston Dennard. Amos Lawrence opened the third quarter by scoring on the opening kickoff and Ronnie Lott scored after intercepting Pastorini.

Week 13 vs. New York Giants

Week 14 at Cincinnati Bengals

Week 15 vs. Houston Oilers

Week 16 at New Orleans Saints

Game officials

Preseason

Week Opponent Referee Umpire Head Linesman Line Judge Back Judge Side Judge Field Judge
1 at Seattle Seahawks (7) (12) (10) (19) (16) (8) (11)
2 San Diego Chargers
3 Seattle Seahawks (10) (7) (22) (14) (5) (19) (20)
4 at Oakland Raiders

Regular season

Week Opponent Referee Umpire Head Linesman Line Judge Back Judge Side Judge Field Judge
1 at Detroit Lions (19) Tom Dooley (12) Dave Hamilton (7) Tony Veteri (20) Jim Osborne (9) Banks Williams (8) Grover Klemmer (14) Jack Vaughn
2 Chicago Bears (15) Bob Frederic (3) Lou Palazzi (17) Jerry Bergman (16) Bob Beeks (20) Bob Swanson (14) Ron Murphy (6) Don Hakes
3 at Atlanta Falcons (14) Gene Barth (5) Bob Boylston (18) Burl Toler (3) Bob McLaughlin (15) J.W. Sanders (9) Dean Look (7) Fritz Graf
4 New Orleans Saints (7) Fred Silva (15) Ralph Morcroft (20) Frank Glover (19) Vern Marshall (12) Jim Kearney (22) Merrill Douglas (10) Don Orr
5 at Washington Redskins (20) Gordon McCarter (22) Ron Botchan (14) Earnie Frantz (9) Jack Fette (10) Jimmy Rosser (18) Ron DeSuzza (11) Armen Terzian
6 Dallas Cowboys (3) Jim Tunney (8) Pat Harder (25) Sid Semon (8) Dick McKenzie (11) Pat Knight (5) Gil Mace (24) Johnny Grier
7 vs. Green Bay Packers (at Milwaukee) (12) Ben Dreith (10) Tom Myers (8) Dale Williams (11) Bill Reynolds (8) Don Wedge (4) Ed Ward (16) Pat Mallette
8 Los Angeles Rams (4) Pat Haggerty (9) Dave Moss (10) Terry Gierke (24) Walt Peters (16) Jim Poole (15) Dick Creed (18) Bob Lewis
9 at Pittsburgh Steelers (15) Bob Frederic (3) Lou Palazzi (17) Jerry Bergman (16) Bob Beeks (20) Bill Swanson (14) Ron Murphy (6) Don Hakes
10 Atlanta Falcons (11) Fred Wyant (19) Tom Hensley (6) Ed Marion (4) Wilson Gosier (18) Dick Hantak (25) Vince Jacob (12) Bob Wortman
11 Cleveland Browns (18) Chuck Heberling (11) Gordon Wells (15) Ray Dodez (17) Dale Orem (14) Al Jury (24) Duwayne Gandy (19) Charley Musser
12 at Los Angeles Rams (8) Red Cashion (14) Art Demmas (16) Jack Johnson (25) Neil Gereb (4) Ben Tompkins (3) Nate Jones (15) Dick Ferguson
13 New York Giants (9) Jerry Markbreit (17) Ed Fiffick (12) Dale Hamer (15) Bama Glass (7) Tom Kelleher (6) Willie Spencer (5) Bill Stanley
14 at Cincinnati Bengals (17) Jerry Seeman (20) Frank Sinkovitz (3) Leo Miles (6) John Leimbach (23) Paul Baetz (7) Bill Quinby (9) Bill O'Brien
15 Houston Oilers (6) Dick Jorgensen (4) John Keck (9) Ligouri Hagerty (22) Boyce Smith (17) Roy Clymer (16) Royal Cathcart (3) Dick Dolack
16 at New Orleans Saints (14) Gene Barth (5) Bob Boylston (18) Burl Toler (3) Bob McLaughlin (15) J.W. Sanders (9) Dean Look (7) Fritz Graf

Standings

NFC West
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
San Francisco 49ers(1) 13 3 0 .857 5-1 11-1 357 250 W5
Atlanta Falcons 7 9 0 .438 3-3 6-6 426 355 L3
Los Angeles Rams 6 10 0 .375 2-4 5-7 303 351 L1
New Orleans Saints 4 12 0 .250 2-4 2-10 207 378 L4

Final statistics

Statistical comparison

San Francisco 49ers Opponents
First downs 317 280
First downs rushing 110 113
First downs passing 183 144
First downs penalty 24 23
Third down efficiency 114/259 87/224
Fourth down efficiency 0/0 0/0
Net yards rushing 1941 1918
Rushing attempts 560 454
Yards per rush 3.5 4.1
Passing - Completions/attempts 328/517 273/514
Times sacked-total yards 29-223 36-290
Interceptions thrown 13 27
Net yards passing 3543 2845
Total net yards 5484 4763
Punt returns-total yards 48-344 57-664
Kickoff returns-total yards 45-909 67-1389
Interceptions-total return yards 27-448 13-297
Punts-average yardage 93-41.5 83-41.4
Fumbles-lost 26-12 36-21
Penalties-total yards 92-752 108-866
Time of possession 31:38 28:22
Turnovers 25 48

Quarter-by-quarter

49ers Quarter-by-quarter
1 2 3 4 T
49ers 80 100 88 89 357
Opponents 40 76 55 79 250

Individual leaders

49ers Passing
C/ATT1 Yds TD INT Rating
Montana 311/488 3565 19 12 88.4
Benjamin 15/26 171 1 1 74.4
Solomon 1/1 25 0 0 118.8
Easley 1/1 5 0 0 87.5
Clark 0/1 0 0 0 39.6
49ers Rushing
Car2 Yds TD LG3 Yds/Car
Patton 152 543 4 28 3.6
Cooper 98 330 1 23 3.4
Davis 94 297 7 14 3.2
Easley 76 224 1 9 2.9
Hofer 60 193 1 12 3.2
Ring 22 106 0 16 4.8
Montana 25 95 2 20 3.8
Lawrence 13 48 1 14 3.7
Solomon 9 43 0 16 4.8
Clark 3 32 0 18 10.7
Elliott 7 29 0 9 4.1
Benjamin 1 1 0 1 1.0
49ers Receiving
Rec4 Yds TD LG3 Yds/Rec
Clark 85 1105 4 78 13.0
Solomon 59 969 8 60 16.4
Cooper 51 477 0 50 9.4
Young 37 400 5 29 10.8
Hofer 27 244 0 22 9.0
Patton 27 195 1 31 7.2
Wilson 9 125 1 27 13.9
Easley 9 62 0 21 6.9
Elliott 7 81 0 19 11.6
Ramson 4 45 0 16 11.3
Ring 3 28 1 21 9.3
Shumann 3 21 0 8 7.0
Lawrence 3 10 0 5 3.3
Davis 3 -1 0 3 -0.3
Peets 1 5 0 5 5.0
49ers Interception
Int5 Yds TD LG3 Y/Int
Hicks 9 239 1 72 26.6
Lott 7 117 3 41 16.7
Williamson 4 44 0 28 11.0
Wright 3 26 0 26 8.7
McColl 1 22 0 22 22.0
Martin 1 0 0 0 0
Reynolds 1 0 0 0 0
Turner 1 0 0 0 0
49ers Punts
Pnt6 Yds LG3 Blck Y/P
Miller 93 3858 65 0 41.5
49ers Kickoff Returns
Rt7 Yds TD LG3 Y/Rt
Lawrence 17 437 1 92 25.7
Ring 10 217 0 29 21.7
Lott 7 111 0 20 15.9
Wilson 4 67 0 22 16.8
Jones 3 43 0 22 14.3
Hicks 1 22 0 22 22.0
Ramson 1 12 0 12 12.0
Davis 1 0 0 0 0.0
Patton 1 0 0 0 0.0
49ers Punt Returns
Rt8 Yds TD LG3 Y/Rt
Solomon 29 173 0 19 6.0
Hicks 19 171 0 39 9.0
49ers Extra Points
XP XPA XP%
Wersching 30 30 100
Bahr 12 12 100
49ers Field Goals
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ FG FGA FG%
Wersching 2-2 7-7 4-7 4-7 17 23 73.9
Bahr 0-2 0-1 2-3 2 6 33.9

1Completions/attempts 2Carries 3Long gain 4Receptions 5Interceptions 6Punts 7Kickoff Returns 8Punt Returns

Postseason

Round Date Opponent Result Score Stadium Attendance Time Network National Radio
NFC Divisional Playoff January 3, 1982 New York Giants W 38–24 Candlestick Park 58,360 2:00 PM PST CBS CBS
NFC Championship Game January 10, 1982 Dallas Cowboys W 28–27 Candlestick Park 60,525 2:00 PM PST CBS CBS
Super Bowl XVI January 24, 1982 vs. Cincinnati Bengals (at Pontiac, Michigan) W 26–21 Pontiac Silverdome 81,270 1:00 PM PST CBS CBS

Notes:

a All times are PACIFIC time.

NFC Divisional Playoff

The Giants were making their first appearance in the postseason since 1963. First year starting quarterback Joe Montana led the 49ers to victory in his first ever playoff game, completing 20 of 31 passes for 304 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 1 interception. His top target in the game was receiver Dwight Clark, who caught 5 passes for 104 yards.

NFC Championship Game

The 49ers were making their third appearance in the NFC Championship Game. Their opponent was their opponent for the two previous NFC Championship Games-the Dallas Cowboys. In both previous matches, the 49ers had lost the game. The game is remembered for "The Catch".

The play, remembered in 49er lore as "Red Right Tight--Sprint Right Option" had called for both the primary receiver, Solomon, and Dwight Clark to line up on the right. Montana was supposed to roll to his right and find Solomon. Clark's pattern called for him to cut left across the end zone, stop, and immediately reverse his path to the right. If Solomon were covered, it would be up to Montana to find Clark. Due to the pressure, Montana's pass was high, but Clark was in position to make his memorable grab. Future New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who grew up in the Bay Area, attended the game as a four-year-old. The 49ers were victorious despite an astonishing six turnovers, including three interceptions by Joe Montana.

A photograph of the catch, with Clark at the height of his leap and Everson Walls reaching out to try to block the ball, was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated the following week.

Super Bowl XVI

Game officials

Round Opponent Referee Umpire Head Linesman Line Judge Back Judge Side Judge Field Judge Alternates
NFC Divisional Playoff New York Giants (12) Ben Dreith (12) Dave Hamilton (15) Ray Dodez (9) Jack Fette (9) Banks Williams (4) Ed Ward (14) Jack Vaughn (16) Jack Johnson
NFC Championship Game Dallas Cowboys (3) Jim Tunney (5) Bob Boylston (6) Ed Marion (16) Bob Beeks (5) Ray Douglas (9) Dean Look (20) Ed Merrifield (20) Gordon McCarter
(9) Dave Moss
Super Bowl XVI vs. Cincinnati Bengals (at Pontiac, Michigan) (4) Pat Haggerty (7) Al Conway (17) Jerry Bergman (16) Bob Beeks (20) Bill Swanson (19) Bob Rice (6) Don Hakes (14) Gene Barth
(8) Pat Harder

Awards and records

1982 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl

Number Player Position Conference
87 Dwight Clark WR NFC Pro Bowlers
51 Randy Cross RG, Starter NFC Pro Bowlers
74 Fred Dean DE NFC Pro Bowlers
22 Dwight Hicks S NFC Pro Bowlers
42 Ronnie Lott RCB, Starter NFC Pro Bowlers
16 Joe Montana QB, Starter NFC Pro Bowlers

[5]

Media

Pre season Local TV

Channel Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
KPIX-TV 5

Local Radio

Flagship station Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
KCBS–AM 740 Don Klein Wayne Walker

References

  1. ^ http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2016/01/27/silverdome-super-bowl-san-francisco-49ers-dynasty
  2. ^ San Francisco 49ers 2015 Media Guide. San Francisco 49ers. pp. 561-562.
  3. ^ "1981 San Francisco 49ers starters and roster". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s San Francisco 49ers 2015 Media Guide. San Francisco 49ers. p. 448.
  5. ^ San Francisco 49ers 2015 Media Guide. San Francisco 49ers. p. 517.

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

1981_San_Francisco_49ers_season
 



 



 
Music Scenes