Artifact of the Game: San Francisco vs. Washington
This story will appear in the Nov. 23 issue of the San Francisco 49ers “Gameday” magazine…
San Francisco Slips By Washington in First Playoff Game at Candlestick Park
By Joe Hession, 49ers Museum historian
Candlestick Park provided the 49ers with one of the NFL’s greatest home field advantages. From 1971 to 2013 the 49ers won more games at Candlestick than any other NFL team on its home field, including 20 of 27 playoff contests. Washington was San Francisco’s first postseason victim at “The Stick.”
The 49ers moved from Kezar Stadium to cozy Candlestick Park in 1971. That year, Coach Dick Nolan led the club to a 9-5 record and its second straight NFC West championship behind a stout defense that featured Pro Bowl defensive backs Jimmy Johnson and Bruce Taylor, defensive end Cedrick Hardman, and linebacker Dave Wilcox. Opposing teams averaged just 15 points per game against the 49ers.
In the first playoff contest ever held at Candlestick, San Francisco hosted Coach George Allen’s Washington club. Veteran 49ers quarterback John Brodie welcomed them
by firing two touchdown passes in a 24-20 win. Tight end Bob Windsor and wideout Gene Washington were on the receiving end of Brodie’s throws, but special teams and defense were the key to victory. The 49ers capitalized on linebacker Frank Nunley’s blocked field goal attempt, a botched punt snap and a clutch interception by safety Roosevelt Taylor.
The 49ers rallied after trailing at halftime 10-3. Early in the third quarter they evened the score when Brodie uncorked a 78-yard scoring strike to his favorite deep threat, Gene Washington. It was the longest 49ers touchdown pass in Candlestick’s playoff history. Washington nabbed 371 passes during his nine seasons in San Francisco, but saved his best days for the playoffs. He averaged over 23 yards per catch in postseason, a 49ers record. Minutes after the game-tying touchdown, Rosey Taylor intercepted Washington quarterback Billy Kilmer’s pass, setting up Brodie’s two-yard scoring toss to Windsor.
The game was decided late in the fourth quarter as San Francisco nursed a 17-13 lead. With three minutes left to play, an errant snap skipped between the legs of Washington punter Mike Bragg. Forty Niners defensive tackle Bob Hoskins knifed through a pack of players to recover in the end zone. Hoskins’ touchdown provided the 49ers with the winning cushion and San Francisco advanced to its second consecutive NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys.
The game ball from the 49ers first playoff win at Candlestick can be seen at the 49ers Museum presented by Sony. Also on display are artifacts from the Candlestick Park locker room, John Brodie’s 1970 NFL Player-of-the-Year award, and memorabilia from Dick Nolan and Gene Washington. For more information on Museum tickets, hours and content, visit levisstadium.com/museum.