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These are some of the new plays the San Francisco 49ers put in but did NOT use in Super Bowl XVI:
They had an end-around pass, Dwight Clark throwing to Freddie Solomon. They had different option passes for every healthy running back. They had a play in which Solomon throws a pass off a reverse and they had a pitch-and-later-al, Joe Montana to Ricky Patton to Earl Cooper. They had something called a Nickel Blizzard, which isn't the big brother of Pennies From Heaven; it's a safety blitz out of the nickel-back formation. What else? Oh yeah, they also had what they call a Short Yardage Triple Pass, which means sweep, reverse, pitch back and pass...no, wait a minute, they did use that, yes they did. They used it in the first half, in which they built a 20-0 lead on the way to their 26-21 triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.
Why didn't they use that other stuff? Well, they had enough, quite enough, more than enough. How many new toys can you fit in the attic? How many candy bars can a healthy child digest? How many newfangled things can you throw at a team without having the Competition Committee come up with another Parity Edict in the off-season...O.K., Walsh, the other guys get two weeks to prepare for Super Bowl XVII, but we're giving you three days, see.
Brother, did 49er Coach Bill Walsh throw some stuff at the Bengals. The Triple Pass, in which Montana hands to Patton who hands to Solomon who pitches back to Montana who throws downfield to Tight End Charle Young, was designed for third-and-one. It made its entry on the Niners' first third-and-one situation of the game—in the middle of their long (68 yards), exotic touchdown drive in the first quarter—picked up a neat 14 yards and then bowed out for the day amid polite applause.
The 49ers' most significant pass, in fact the last pass they threw, was a 22-yarder to reserve Flanker Mike Wilson. It got them out of a deep hole, second-and-15, early in the fourth quarter when the Bengals had closed to within six points. It launched them on their way to the field goal that made the score 23-14. It was called Sweep Pass Right, Z-Come-back and it was put in on Wednesday, four days before the game.
"I run 25 yards downfield, then I come back to about 20," Wilson said. "All year long when we showed anything 20 yards deep, it was a takeoff, a go, so the cornerback [Louis Breeden] figured I'd keep on going."
Simple, see. Just do something you never did before, or maybe once, a long time ago, and then forgot. Like the play in the second quarter that got San Francisco its second touchdown and ended a 92-yard drive, longest in Super Bowl history. This one was an 11-yard pass to Cooper, the fullback, a particular bit of nastiness designed to burn Reggie Williams, the Bengals' right outside linebacker, a Dartmouth graduate and an active chap who'd been making things lively with his blitzes.
Cooper had already run for two significant gains—11 and 14 yards—and this time he started up the middle, but Montana faked the handoff and Cooper took a left at the stop sign and headed for the expressway. Solomon and Mike Shuman, the wide receivers on the left side, had swooped inside, wiping the blackboard clean like a giant eraser, and Cooper dipped out behind them, getting an extra step on poor Williams, who'd bitten for the fake up the middle. Six points. And when had this play, named Fox-Two Special, been seen? Only once before, in 1980, against the New England Patriots. It had gone for a touchdown then, too. It was used only once on Sunday. Why repeat? Got a million of 'em, fellas.
"We didn't know what to expect, given the mentality of their coach," Williams said afterward. "Plus, he had that extra week to prepare them."
On Wednesday, Walsh put in a pass to Solomon, and that got the Niners down to the five-yard line and set up a field goal late in the first half. It was a square-out, with Solomon coming from inside the flanked tight end. This one had been used once before—against Green Bay—and it got Solomon a first down then.