49ers had made it to the NFC Championship game in 1992 and ’93 and were 3-1
thus far in 1994 as they hosted the Philadelphia Eagles on October 2. Head
Coach George Seifert’s team had outstanding talent, with QB Steve Young, WR
Jerry Rice, and RB Ricky Watters on offense and a revamped defense that
included DT Dana Stubblefield, CB Deion Sanders, and safeties Tim McDonald and
It was a pleasant afternoon at
with 64,711 fans in attendance. The Eagles set the tone in the first drive of
the game as Cunningham completed all five of his passes, including three to
Calvin Williams that totaled 56 yards, and Charlie Garner took a pitchout and
ran the final yard for a touchdown to cap an impressive 10-play, 75-yard
series. Candlestick Park
The Niners punted following their next possession and the Eagles, taking over from their nine yard line, advanced to the
San Francisco 35 before punting on the final
play of the opening period. Mitch Berger’s kick was a good one, going out of
bounds on the three and setting the stage for another Philadelphia score early in the second
quarter when Young was tackled in the end zone by William Fuller for a safety.
Young came out passing when the 49ers got the ball back and the result was a 15-play drive that covered 66 yards. Along the way, he completed a throw to Rice for a 16-yard gain on third-and-17 and then converted the resulting fourth-and-one play with another toss to Rice for nine more yards. Young capped the possession with a one-yard sneak for a touchdown and then threw to TE Brent Jones for a two-point conversion that made the tally 23-8. It would prove to be the
high point of the day
for San Francisco.
The Eagles responded by going 65 yards in eight plays following WR Jeff Sydner’s 28-yard kickoff return. The big play was a 28-yard gain on a pass from Cunningham to Garner out of the backfield. Herschel Walker ran for a two-yard TD and
took a stunning 30-8 lead into halftime.
In a half of action, Charlie Garner had gained 94 yards rushing on 12 carries and Calvin Williams accumulated 95 yards on 7 pass receptions.
The second half was anticlimactic. On their second possession of the third quarter,
Murray kicked a
36-yard field goal to add to Philadelphia’s
lead. Elvis Grbac replaced Young before the period was over after the veteran
passer, who was hit hard and often, was sacked by Fuller. Cunningham’s 18-yard
touchdown pass to TE Mark Bavaro in the fourth quarter made the final score an
Charlie Garner was the breakout star for the Eagles, running for 111 yards on 16 carries that included two touchdowns and also catching the one pass for 28 more yards before leaving the game in the third quarter with a back injury. Randall Cunningham completed 20 of 29 passes for 246 yards and two TDs with no interceptions. Calvin Williams (pictured below) had 9 pass receptions for 122 yards.
For the Niners, the normally-proficient Steve Young was successful on just 11 of 23 throws for 99 yards with no touchdowns and two intercepted. Ricky Watters was the leading ground-gainer with a mere 22 yards on 7 carries. Jerry Rice caught 6 passes for 66 yards.
“I probably should have changed earlier,” said Coach Seifert regarding his decision to pull Young in the third quarter. “When he took that shot in the shoulder, I said the hell with it, I’m not leaving him in. We have a lot of football left.”
There was indeed a lot of football left and things got much better for Steve Young and the 49ers. After the big loss to
Philadelphia, they reeled off 10 straight
wins on the way to a 13-3 record and third straight NFC West title. They made
it to the Super Bowl, handily defeating the San Diego Chargers. Young led the
NFL in passing for the fourth consecutive season (112.8) while also receiving
consensus MVP honors.
As for the Eagles, they advanced to 7-2 before the bottom fell out and they didn’t win again, ending up at 7-9 and fourth in the NFC East. By the end, Randall Cunningham had been benched and Byron Evans was out with a broken leg, which had a major impact on the defense. Rich Kotite’s coaching tenure came to an end after the season.
Charlie Garner had a second hundred-yard rushing performance the week after his spectacular debut against the 49ers, making him the seventh rookie in NFL history (and first Eagle) to do so in his first two games. He was worn down by further injuries, however, and ended up with 399 yards on 109 carries (3.7 avg.). Garner would go on to create an effective tandem with Ricky Watters, who came to Philadelphia as a free agent in 1995, and later played for the 49ers (as well as Oakland and Tampa Bay), where he gained selection to the Pro Bowl in 2000.