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Happy Anniversary: Vikings Stunned 49ers 32 Years Ago

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the 49ers.

The Vikings-49ers series of 47 regular-season or postseason meetings includes five playoff games.

Minnesota is 1-4 all-time against San Francisco in the postseason, claiming that victory in stunning fashion 32 years ago today.

The shocking win was preceded by a narrow loss more than 18 years prior and immediately followed by blowout losses in two consecutive postseasons. The 49ers also topped the Vikings in January 1998.

All five previous meetings have occurred in the Divisional round, and Saturday's game will continue that streak.


In honor of Throwback Thursday, here's a recap of the previous playoff matchups with San Francisco:

Missed opportunity

49ers 17, Vikings 14

Dec. 27, 1970 | Metropolitan Stadium

Setting the stage: The 1970 Vikings followed the first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history by going 12-2 for the second consecutive regular season. Minnesota outscored opponents 335 to 143. Associated Press MVP John Brodie, who had a league-best 2,941 passing yards, led the 49ers to a 10-3-1 mark.

In the game: The Vikings defense started great, with Paul Krause returning a fumble 22 yards for a touchdown and 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The 49ers, however, bounced back to tie the game on a 24-yard pass from Brodie to Dick Witcher.

Bruce Gossett connected on a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter to put San Francisco up 10-7 at halftime. A 6-yard sack forced a 43-yard field goal by Minnesota in the fourth quarter, but the attempt to tie the game fell short.

Brodie rushed for a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to end a 14-yard drive and put the 49ers up 17-7. Gene Washington, who led the NFL with 1,100 receiving yards, caught a 24-yard pass from Gary Cuozzo, but it was too little too late. Cuozzo finished 9-for-27 with a touchdown, two interceptions and three sacks.

It was the first home playoff loss in franchise history by Minnesota.

Quote: "San Francisco's defense was good, but we didn't play as well as we can and have (on offense). We all must share responsibility." — Head Coach Bud Grant


Tremendous Upset

Vikings 36, 49ers 24

Jan. 9, 1988 | Candlestick Park

Setting the stage: The 1987 season was shortened by one game because of a players' strike that resulted in the use of replacement players for three other games. Minnesota's fill-ins went 0-3 before starters returned to win five of six. They then lost three of four to close the season at 8-7 and eek into the playoffs (only five teams made it back then: three division winners and two Wild Card teams). San Francisco (13-2) won the NFC West and a first-round bye thanks to a 3-0 showing with replacement players.


In the game: Anthony Carter caught 10 passes for a whopping 227 of Wade Wilson's 298 passing yards, and the Vikings limited eventual Hall of Fame WR Jerry Rice to three catches for 28 yards. Minnesota mauled future Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana like a grizzly. Another future HOF QB, Steve Young, replaced Montana with the 49ers trailing 27-10 with 6:29 left in the third quarter. It was the first benching of Montana in his professional career.

Chris Doleman recorded 2.0 sacks, and Scott Studwell and Henry Thomas had one apiece.

Reggie Rutland returned an interception of Montana 45 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Vikings a 20-3 edge at halftime. Carl Lee added an interception of Young.

Quote: "I told Joe we had to try to change our chemistry. But you can't say that was the answer. Minnesota just took our game away from us." — 49ers Head Coach Bill Walsh on benching Montana

Revenge of the Niners

49ers 34, Vikings 9

Jan. 1, 1989 | Candlestick Park

Setting the stage: The 1988 Vikings went 11-5 and finished second in the NFC Central behind the Bears (12-4). The 49ers were one of five 10-6 teams in the NFC and won the West via tiebreakers over the Rams and Saints. The Rams made the playoffs as a Wild Card team, and the Eagles won the East. The Giants and Saints missed the playoffs. Minnesota hosted and defeated Los Angeles 28-17 to advance.

In the game: Nearly a year to the date of being limited to three receptions, Rice caught three touchdowns in the second quarter to give San Francisco a 21-3 halftime lead.

Hassan Jones caught a 5-yard touchdown from Wilson, but 21-9 was as close as the Vikings could get. The 49ers sacked Wilson six times, and Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott picked him off twice.

Roger Craig, who later played for Minnesota, scored on runs of 4 and 80 yards in the fourth quarter.

Quote: "They played hard and I'm proud of that, but there is a difference between playing hard and playing well. We had a good week of practice. Today was the 49ers day. A year ago, it was our day." — Vikings Head Coach Jerry Burns

History repeats, only worse

49ers 41, Vikings 13

Jan. 6, 1990 | Candlestick Park

Setting the stage: The 1989 Niners kept things going after winning Super Bowl XXIII by going 14-2 in the regular season. Montana was named MVP, and Rice led the NFL with 1,483 receiving yards. The Vikings finished 10-6 and won the NFC Central via a tiebreaker with Green Bay, which joined Washington as the two 10-6 squads that missed the playoffs in the final year that the field was limited to five teams.

In the game: San Francisco totaled 20 points by scoring three second-quarter touchdowns against Minnesota in the second consecutive postseason.

Rice had a 13-yard touchdown to cap a string of 27 consecutive points for San Francisco that started with a 72-yard touchdown.

Montana threw four touchdowns on his way to a passer rating of 142.5, and Rice finished with 114 yards through the air. Craig rushed 18 times for 125 yards and a touchdown.

A Vikings squad that recorded a franchise-record 71 sacks on the season was unable to "get home" on Montana one time because of a successful quick-passing game with receivers turning short throws into big gains.

The 49ers recorded four interceptions, including one that Lott returned 58 yards for a touchdown. Wilson, Tommy Kramer and Rich Gannon combined were 31-of-54 passing 338 yards with no touchdowns. Steve Jordan led Minnesota with nine catches for 149 yards.

If that final score sounds bad, consider that San Francisco won the NFC Championship over the Rams 30-3 and Super Bowl XXIV over the Broncos 55-10.

Quote: "Everybody says, 'Aw, Montana is the greatest, he throws the ball.' But all their passes are 10 yards or less. Guys run with the ball so well. When you can take a 4- or 5-yard pass and turn it into 60, 70 yards, that's a great day." — Vikings DT Henry Thomas


Uphill battle

49ers 38, Vikings 22

Jan. 3, 1998 | 3Com (Candlestick) Park

Setting the stage: The Vikings finished 9-7 but were one of four teams from the NFC Central to make the postseason. Green Bay (13-3), Tampa Bay (10-6) and Detroit (9-7) finished ahead of Minnesota in the rankings, but the only other team above .500 in the conference was Washington (8-7-1). The Vikings advanced by upsetting the New York Giants 23-22 in the Wild Card round. San Francisco (13-3) had the No. 1 seed.

In the game: Now the starter, Young completed 21 of 30 passes (70 percent) for 224 yards with one touchdown and a passer rating of 102.6. J.J. Stokes caught nine passes for 101 yards, and Terrell Owens added 49 yards and a score on four catches. Terry Kirby rushed 25 times for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

Randall Cunningham completed less than 50 percent of his passes but totaled 331 yards and three scores. A 23-yard interception return for a touchdown by Ken Norton, Jr., gave San Francisco a 21-7 lead at halftime.

Cris Carter caught two touchdowns and finished with 93 yards on six catches. Jake Reed led Minnesota with 114 yards on five receptions, and Matthew Hatchette caught a 13-yard touchdown late.

The 49ers ran the ball 41 times for 175 yards and three scores, compared to 16 rushes for 57 yards by the Vikings.

San Francisco led 21-7 at halftime by outscoring Minnesota 14-zip in the second quarter and increased its lead to 31-14 heading into the fourth.

Quote: "We thought we'd play better offense. We had to play better offense to have a chance to win. When you go against a No. 1 team, you have to do a lot of things real well, and we didn't do a lot well." — Vikings Head Coach Dennis Green