1988 San Francisco 49ers season
Head Coach Bill Walsh
Home Field Candlestick Park
Record 10–6
Place 1st NFC West
Playoff Finish Super Bowl XXIII Champions
49ers84 88
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1987 1989

The San Francisco 49ers 1988 season was their 43rd season in the National Football League. The season was highlighted by their third Super Bowl victory. In 1988, the 49ers struggled. At one point, they were 6-5 and in danger of missing the playoffs but rose to defeat the Washington Redskins on a Monday night, eventually finishing the season at 10-6. They gained a measure of revenge by thrashing the Minnesota Vikings 34-9 in the first round. The 49ers then traveled to Chicago's Soldier Field, where the chill factor at gametime was 26 degrees below zero. They defeated the Chicago Bears 28-3 in a NFC Championship game upset.

For the 49ers, it was their first Super Bowl appearance since they defeated the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX. They had made the playoffs in the three seasons between Super Bowl XIX and Super Bowl XXIII, but were eliminated each time in the first round, primarily because of the poor performances by their offensive stars in those games; quarterback Joe Montana, receiver Jerry Rice and running back Roger Craig all failed to produce a single touchdown.


NFL DraftEdit

Round # Pick # Player Position College
33San Francisco 49ersDanny StubbsOutside LinebackerMiami
39San Francisco 49ersPierce HoltDefensive TackleAngelo State
80San Francisco 49ersBill RomanowskiOutside LinebackerBoston College
102San Francisco 49ersBarry HeltonPunterColorado
191San Francisco 49ersKevin BryantLinebackerDelaware State



1988 San Francisco 49ers staff
Front office

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

  • Special Teams – Lynn Stiles

Strength and conditioning

  • Physical Development Coordinator – Jerry Attaway


1988 San Francisco 49ers roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics
Active, Inactive, Practice squad

Regular seasonEdit

In the 1988 season, San Francisco won the NFC West with a 10-6 regular season record, but it was a long uphill battle. The team had a quarterback controversy with Montana and Steve Young each starting at quarterback during the season. But after a 6-5 start, Montana led the 49ers to win 4 of their final 5 regular season games.

Montana finished the regular season with 238 completions for 2,981 yards and 18 touchdowns, and also added 132 rushing yards. His favorite target was Rice, who recorded 64 receptions for 1,306 yards (a 20.4 yards per catch average) and 9 touchdowns. Craig was also a key contributor with a total of 2,036 combined rushing and receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, earning him the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award. Fullback Tom Rathman also made a big impact, rushing for 427 yards and catching 42 passes for 387 yards. The 49ers defense was led by defensive backs Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright, Jeff Fuller, and Tim McKyer, who recorded a combined total of 18 interceptions. McKyer led the team with 7, while Lott recorded 5. Linebacker Charles Haley was also a big contributor with 11.5 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries.


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 4, 1988 at New Orleans Saints W 34-33
2 September 11, 1988 at New York Giants W 20-17
3 September 18, 1988 Atlanta Falcons L 17-34
4 September 25, 1988 at Seattle Seahawks W 38-7
5 October 2, 1988 Detroit Lions W 20-13
6 October 9, 1988 Denver Broncos L 13-16 (OT)
7 October 16, 1988 at Los Angeles Rams W 24-21
8 October 24, 1988 (Mon) at Chicago Bears L 9-10
9 October 30, 1988 Minnesota Vikings W 24-21
10 November 6, 1988 at Phoenix Cardinals L 23-24
11 November 13, 1988 Los Angeles Raiders L 3-9
12 November 21, 1988 (Mon) Washington Redskins W 37-21
13 November 27, 1988 at San Diego Chargers W 48-10
14 December 4, 1988 at Atlanta Falcons W 13-3
15 December 11, 1988 New Orleans Saints W 30-17
16 December 18, 1988 Los Angeles Rams L 16-38


NFC West
view · talk · edit W L T PCT PF PA STK
San Francisco 49ers 10 6 0 .625 369 294 L1
Los Angeles Rams 10 6 0 .625 407 293 W3
New Orleans Saints 10 6 0 .625 312 283 W1
Atlanta Falcons 5 11 0 .313 244 315 L3


NFC Divisional PlayoffEdit

San Francisco 49ers 34, Minnesota Vikings 9
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings 3 0 6 0


49ers 7 14 0 13


at Candlestick Park, San Francisco

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter

MIN- Chuck Nelson 47 yard field goal MIN 3-0

SF- Jerry Rice 2 yard pass from Joe Montana (Mike Cofer kick)SF 7-3

2nd Quarter

SF- Jerry Rice 4 yard pass from Joe Montana (Mike Cofer kick) SF 14-3

SF- Jerry Rice 11 yard pass from Joe Montana (Mike Cofer kick) SF 21-3

3rd Quarter

MIN- Hassan Jones 5 yard pass from Wade Wilson (kick failed) SF 21-9

4th Quarter

SF- Roger Craig 4 yard rush (Mike Cofer kick) SF 28-9

SF- Roger Craig 80 yard rush (kick failed) SF 34-9

NFC Championship GameEdit

San Francisco 49ers 28, Chicago Bears 3
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 7 7 7 7


Bears 0 3 0 0


at Soldier Field, Chicago

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter

SF- Jerry Rice 61 yard pass from Joe Montana (Mike Cofer kick) SF 7-0

2nd Quarter

SF- Jerry Rice 27 yard pass from Joe Montana (Mike Cofer kick)SF 14-0

CHI- Kevin Butler 25 yard field goal SF 14-3

3rd Quarter

SF- John Frank 5 yard pass from Joe Montana (Mike Cofer kick) SF 21-3

4th Quarter

SF- Tom Rathman 4 yard rush (Mike Cofer kick) 28-3

Super Bowl XXIIIEdit

San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16
1 2 3 4 Total
Bengals 0 3 10 3


49ers 3 0 3 14


at Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida

The game is remembered for the 49ers' fourth-quarter game-winning drive. Down 16-13, San Francisco got the ball on their own eight yard line with 3:10 on the clock and marched 92 yards down the field in under three minutes. They then scored the winning touchdown on a Joe Montana pass to John Taylor with just 34 seconds left in the game.

49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice was named the Super Bowl MVP. He caught 11 passes for a Super Bowl record 215 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing once for 5 yards.

This was also the final NFL game coached by the 49ers' Bill Walsh. This was also the final Super Bowl that Pete Rozelle presided over as NFL Commissioner.

Scoring summaryEdit

1st Quarter

  • SF - FG: Mike Cofer 41 yards 3-0 SF

2nd Quarter

  • CIN - FG: Jim Breech 34 yards 3-3 tie

3rd Quarter

  • CIN - FG: Jim Breech 43 yards 6-3 CIN
  • SF - FG: Mike Cofer 32 yards 6-6 tie
  • CIN - TD: Stanford Jennings 93 yard kickoff return (Jim Breech kick) 13-6 CIN

4th Quarter

  • SF - TD: Jerry Rice 14 yard pass from Joe Montana (Mike Cofer kick) 13-13 tie
  • CIN - FG: Jim Breech 40 yards 16-13 CIN
  • SF - TD: John Taylor 10 yard pass from Joe Montana (Mike Cofer kick) 20-16 SF

Awards and recordsEdit

  • Mike Cofer, Led NFC, 27 Field Goals
  • Mike Cofer, Led NFC, 121 Points
  • Roger Craig, Offense, UPI NFC Player of the Year
  • Roger Craig, Led NFC with 2068 total yards
  • Jerry Rice, Most Valuable Player, Super Bowl XXIII


External linksEdit

AFC East Central West East Central West NFC
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Indianapolis Cleveland Kansas City NY Giants Detroit LA Rams
Miami Houston LA Raiders Philadelphia Green Bay New Orleans
New England Pittsburgh San Diego Phoenix Minnesota San Francisco
NY Jets Seattle Washington Tampa Bay
1988 NFL DraftNFL PlayoffsPro BowlSuper Bowl XXIII

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