The 49ers are perfect at 5-0 in the Super Bowl — something no other NFL team has accomplished — but that mark doesn’t seem to matter too much to the current group of players who will take the field for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on Sunday.
“We ain’t talked about that,” cornerback Carlos Rogers said when asked if there is any added motivation in upholding the franchise’s Super Bowl record. “We talked about just getting ours. This is our year to try and get a ring. The past, they already got their rings. Let’s make our own legacy.”
For eight years, Rogers has toiled the NFL gridiron, his legacy remaining a ringless one. It’s a legacy not all that different from the overwhelming majority of his 49ers teammates. But it is one he, and his teammates, intend to change.
“At the end of the day, the past is that past. And present is here,” cornerback Tarell Brown said, whose first four years in San Francisco were obscured in mediocrity, something he too shares with most of his teammates. “So for us to win the game, we have to go out there and compete, go out there and do our job and go out there and make plays.”
Making plays is how the Niners earned their sixth Super Bowl berth, and first in 18 long seasons.
Yet for some, certain seasons were longer than others.
“We went through hard times,” running back Frank Gore said. “I’ve been here since ’05, and it took me seven years to get to the playoffs. And it was tough.”
It’s that hardship, it seems, and not the perfect record, that serves as the primary motivator heading into New Orleans.
“We’re playing for our team — for other guys, especially the guys that deserve it,” offensive tackle Alex Boone said. “Guys who have been in the league for a while that don’t have this.”
Gore, among others, is one of those guys.
“It makes me feel great, knowing that all the guys got a lot of respect for me,” he said. “And they know how much I love the game of football, know that I’ll do what ever it takes to win for them.”
Quarterback Alex Smith, too, has been in San Francisco since 2005 — his football hardship on par with that of his running back.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bittersweet,” Smith said, who has been relegated to celebrating from the sideline. “Yeah, I wanna be out there. ... But at the same time, it is a team sport. And these are all my teammates.
“If you can’t be happy for them, then something’s wrong with you.”
SUPER BOWL XXIX: Jan. 29, 1995, at Miami
49ers 49, Chargers 26
A look back: Steve Young led the 49ers to a romp by tossing a record six touchdown passes and “got the monkey off his back” with his first Super Bowl win as a starter. The Niners scored just three plays into the game and never let up, accumulating 455 yards of offense. Young was named MVP, but Jerry Rice (10 catches, 149 yards, three TDs) and Ricky Watters (47 yards rushing, 61 yards receiving, three touchdowns) also had impressive days.
SUPER BOWL XXIV: Jan. 28, 1990, at New Orleans
49ers 55, Broncos 10
A look back: The last time the 49ers played a Super Bowl in New Orleans it was a record-setting day. The 49ers exploded for 55 points, a Super Bowl record, and also notched the most-lopsided victory in the history of the game. Joe Montana racked up his third Super Bowl MVP award after completing 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns. The Niners defense did its part, too, limiting Denver to 167 total yards.
SUPER BOWL XXIII: Jan. 22, 1989, at Miami
49ers 20, Bengals 16
A look back: In one of the most memorable Super Bowl finishes in history, Joe Montana engineered a 92-yard drive capped off with a 10-yard scoring strike to John Taylor with just 34 seconds remaining in the game. The Bengals had taken a 16-13 lead with 3:20 left in the game. Receiver Jerry Rice nabbed the MVP award after a staggering 11-catch, 215-yard, one-touchdown performance.
SUPER BOWL XIX: Jan. 20, 1985, at Stanford
49ers 38, Dolphins 16
A look back: The 49ers’ offense clicked on all cylinders en route to tallying 537 total yards. MVP Joe Montana completed 24 of 35 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns. He also added five rushes for 59 yards and a TD. Running back Roger Craig scored three TDs (two receiving, one rushing). Dolphins QB Dan Marino managed to pass for 318 yards, but needed 50 attempts to do so and was also picked off twice by the 49ers defense.
SUPER BOWL XVI: Jan. 24, 1982, at Detroit
49ers 26, Bengals 21
A look back: The 49ers built a 20-0 halftime lead, but the Bengals stormed back in the second half to cut it to 20-14. But kicker Ray Wersching booted his third and fourth field goals of the day to give the Niners all the breathing room they needed. The Bengals outgained the 49ers for the game 356-275, but Joe Montana (14-of-22 for 157 yards and two total TDs) was able to do enough to earn MVP honors.