Reporting Dennis O’Donnell
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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – When San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark reached above Dallas Cowboys cornerback Everson Walls and pulled down the football from Joe Montana, it was universally accepted among 49er Faithful that “The Catch” was the greatest offensive play in team history.
I asked on Twitter what 49er fans believed to be the equivalent of “The Catch” on the defensive side of the ball. The response was numerous and nearly unanimous. Sacramento area native Dan Bunz’ goal line hit in Super Bowl XVI perhaps saved San Francisco’s victory over Cincinnati, ensuring the 49ers their first Lombardi trophy.
The 49ers were leading Cincinnati 20-7 and the Bengals had the ball, 1st and goal. The entire defense turned back the Bengals on the first two downs. Then, on 3rd-and-goal from the one yard line, Kenny Anderson threw a pass to Charles Alexander in the right flat. It appeared Alexander had an easy path to the end zone, before Bunz made one of the greatest open-field tackles in Super Bowl history. He stopped Alexander in his tracks; send him into the Astroturf and setting up 4th down. The goal line stand ended with a team effort stopping 250lb Pete Johnson and the Bengals came away with nothing.
While the goal line stand became known as “The Stop,” it never garnered the attention of “The Catch.” Bunz didn’t cash in like Dwight Clark, and ended up in Rocklin running a restaurant and raising a family. Today, he coaches a high school team and still fields phone calls from guys like me when the 49ers venture into Super Bowl territory.
Bunz was a first round pick by the 49ers in 1978 and a rookie on a 2-14 team. Consequently, he has an enormous appreciation for what the 49ers accomplished just three years later. He also has a film of the goal line stand send to him by the late NFL Films guru Steve Sabol.
Thanks to the Twitter response and the unanimous selection of the 49ers linebacker, Bunz will be our special guest on the Super Bowl edition of 49ers Preview this Friday night at 7pm on CBS 5.
See you on TV.
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