No. 3: 1998 NFC Wild Card vs. Green Bay Packers
The game simply known as “The Catch II,” Another famous Candlestick Park memory.
The Packers had taken over from the Cowboys as the 49ers’ chief tormentor. The Packers had eliminated the Niners from the players in the preceding three years, including the 1997 NFC Championship game where they lost at home 23-10.
1998 was Steve Mariucci’s first year as head coach, San Francisco went 12-4, and Steve Young had arguably his best season with 4,170 passing yards and 36 touchdowns against just 12 interceptions. Running back Garrison Hearst had 1,570 rush yards.
But all that mattered was: Could the 49ers finally beat the Packers in the playoffs?
The Niners sputtered through the game and it didn’t look likely. Young was just 18-of-32 for 182 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Owens had drop after drop, and he was close to being benched. Fortunately, Mariucci stuck with him.
After the Packers took the lead 27-23 with a touchdown with only two minutes remaining, Young led the team down the field culminating with a 76-yard drive, which included Owens’ game-winning 25-yard end-zone catch inside two Packers defenders after Young had stumbled and nearly fell over before the pass.
The 49ers radio call of this play by Joe Starkey is still haunting to this day: “Owens! Owens! Owens! Owens! He caught it! He caught it! He caught it! He caught it!”
In just six seconds, the Niners erased three years of playoff heartache losing to quarterback Brett Favre and the Packers. It was the most memorable catch since “The Catch”.
A wonderful 49ers playoff memory. This was a surefire top-three playoff game.