The dynasty that was to be the San Francisco 49ers was buried this afternoon in a Giant rush.
"I don't think anybody is going to realize how bad we feel until we sit down next Sunday and watch other teams playing on television," offensive tackle Keith Fahnhorst said after today's 17-3 playoff loss to the New York Giants.
"It'll be different for us, that's for sure."
For only the second time in five seasons, the 49ers will not be in the National Football Conference championship game.
"We're still champions," said free safety Ronnie Lott. "We know we're still champions."
Coach Bill Walsh vowed his team "will be back." But today, injuries and the New York defense sent them away, to the delight of 75,842 fans at Giants Stadium.
Quarterback Joe Montana, playing with a pulled stomach muscle that required about six pain-killing shots during the weekend, was forced to throw most of his 47 passes on the run, being chased by various Giant defenders.
He said it was the most pressure he has faced since the 49ers' 26-10 loss to Chicago earlier in the year.
"It was a rough day for Joe," said 49ers tight end John Frank. "He had his head on a swivel all day looking for receivers. They had outstanding coverage and the linebackers switched up a lot."
A couple of times, Montana got up after being hit or sacked and spoke to an official about the play. The Giants said one of the reasons why they won was their ability to get to Montana.
"The Giants played a very good game," said Roger Craig, who came out and then went back in with knee injuries. He had a miserable day, dropping six passes and gaining just 23 yards rushing.
"They were fired up from the first play, and I have the bruises to show for it," Craig said.
There was so much attention focused on the woes of the 49ers' offense that one of their moves on defense went almost unnoticed.
Rookie cornerback Tory Nixon, the Washington Redskins' top draft choice this season who was traded in September after a disappointing preseason, started his first game in place of the injured Eric Wright.
Although most expected the Giants to work on Nixon, they threw just a handful of passes his way.
The first was a 19-yard completion to Lionel Manuel, who clearly fooled Nixon on the first-quarter play. Manuel cut inside, then dashed back out.
Nixon bit on the first move, and was beaten.
"You can't win on every one," Nixon said with a shrug and a smile.