When the Giants travel to Candlestick Park this Sunday they’ll renew a playoff rivalry that hasn’t seen postseason action since 2003. The Giants and 49ers have combined for several memorable battles throughout the years. One that probably still stings is the 1990 NFC Championship game.
The 1990 49ers were coming off of their second straight Super Bowl victory. The Giants brought their ferocious defense to Joe Montana and his prolific offense. With nine minutes left in the fourth quarter the Niners were up and Montana faced a 3rd and 10. He scrambled out of the pocket to avoid pressure and waited for a man to get open down field. What he didn’t realize is that a defensive end had gotten back up after falling to the ground and was now closing in — Leonard Marshall drove his body into the unsuspecting quarterback.
Joe Montana says it was the hardest hit he ever took. Not surprising. The hit left him with a bruised sternum, bruised stomach, cracked ribs and a broken hand. Steve Young took his place and the Niners lost on a last second field goal. Pat Summerall had the call, “And the kick… is good… there will be no three-peat.” Even if the Niners had won the game Montana would have never been able to play in the Super Bowl. The Leonard Marshall hit caused Montana to miss all of the following season and most of the season after that. In fact, he would never start another games for the San Fransisco 49ers.