• John Bulmer

Cold as Ice: Reliving the Best 49ers Cold Weather Games


Image Credit: NFL Analysis Network

 



The mighty San Francisco 49ers go marching into Arctic conditions, with temperatures set to drop as low as 5 degrees with a wind chill of minus-10 for tonight’s game. Brrrrr!


This will be much more normal for the Packers than the 49ers and it got us to thinking about past 49ers cold weather games, when they overcame Mother Nature and triumphed in less than optimal conditions.


There were two games that sprung to mind so I thought we would look back at them.

January 8, 1989 – Soldier Field, Chicago (NFC Championship)


Kickoff temperature: minus-26!



The 49ers went into this game on the back of a 10-6 season which was just good enough to clinch the NFC West (sharing the same record with the Rams and Saints). The Bears also won their division (NFC Central) with a 12-4 record and went into the game confident that the fair-weather California team would be no match for a strong Bears team in such favorable home conditions.


According to Joe Hession (49ers Museum Historian), the 49ers were also the unwitting victims of some Chicago hostility; there is one particular tale of a cab driver deliberately dropping off Joe Montana, Jesse Sapolu, and Steve Wallace at the wrong end of Soldier Field, forcing them to endure a half-mile trek in the freezing cold just to make it to the locker room.


According to Wallace, the conniving cabbie even had time to trash talk about one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, insisting that Montana wasn’t even that good!


Joe Cool and the Niners had the last laugh, winning comfortably 28-3, with the great Montana throwing for three touchdowns as the team secured its place in Super Bowl XXIII and ended Chicago’s dreams. Even better for the frozen 49ers, that Super Bowl was to be played in the much more civilized conditions of Miami, Florida – quite the contrast!


The game became known as the “Bears Weather” game by 49ers fans and is still remembered fondly today as it led to them winning Super Bowl XXIII (the 49ers’ third Lombardi) against the Bengals, 20-16.

Image Credit: Focus On Sport

January 5, 2014 – Lambeau Field, Green Bay (NFC Wildcard)


Kickoff temperature: 5 degrees (wind chill minus-9)

Image Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports



The temperature this time was positively balmy compared to the “Bears Weather” game but still one of the coldest in 49ers history.


This game was arguably Colin Kaepernick’s finest hour as he went toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers until the final kick of the game by Phil Dawson sealed a legendary 49ers victory.


Kaepernick decided to go sleeveless for the game, believing that part of playing in the cold weather was mind over matter and the cold weather certainly didn’t seem to hinder No. 7 at all.

On the day he accounted for 325 yards (227 through the air and 98 on the ground) as the Packers’ defense didn’t seem to have an answer to the dual threat that he posed.


After the teams traded blows for four quarters, Kaepernick led the team on a 14-play, 65-yard drive which resulted in Phil Dawson’s 33-yard field goal as time expired to win the game.


Yet again, the “soft” Californians proved their mettle and triumphed against adversity, advancing in the playoffs once more.

Can Lightning Strike Twice?


If these games teach us anything, it is that football players win games, not weather forecasts! This 49ers team has proved their toughness time and again this season, hanging on in there at critical times and doing whatever is needed to get the W.


Yes, the adverse conditions favor the Packers. Yes, the 49ers would sooner be playing at home in 60-degree temperatures but this is the NFL playoffs, you play the hand that you are dealt. Lose, and the season is over, and you have an awful long time to think about what went wrong.


I hope that this current version of the San Francisco 49ers can live up to the achievements of their more illustrious forebears and take inspiration from it. Win this one and who’s to say that they can’t go all the way? Go Niners!


 

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