SAN FRANCISCO, SEPT. 16 -- While San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana had his usual stellar day in surpassing former 49ers great John Brodie as the team's all-time passer, it was the San Francisco defense that doomed the Washington Redskins today.
Early in the third quarter, Washington was on the brink of taking control but, just when the momentum was ready to shift, the 49ers' defense came up with big plays to help San Francisco to its second straight victory, 26-13.
First, linebacker Charles Haley blocked a 33-yard field goal by Chip Lohmiller that would have cut the San Francisco lead to 20-13. Haley's play ended a 61-yard drive by Washington that opened the second half.
The Redskins forced the 49ers to punt, one of only two San Francisco punts of the day, on the next series. Mark Rypien quickly moved Washington down the field, a 40-yard pass to Gary Clark putting Washington on the 49ers one-foot line.
But the completion jolted the 49ers defense out of complacency. On first and goal from the 1, Michael Walter and Chet Brooks stopped Gerald Riggs for no gain. On second down, it was Matt Millen's turn to hammer Riggs, this time for a two-yard loss. . On third down, San Francisco defensive back Ronnie Lott forced Rypien to abort a bootleg,, and Washington settled for a 20-yard field goal.
"It was a momentum-preserver," said 49ers Coach George Seifert of the goal line stand. "It was kind of a dying thing to come out of that situation with only three points." Washington never mounted a serious threat the rest of the game.
Offensively, the 49ers consistently converted third-down situations. Montana repeatedly found an open receiver underneath the Washington coverage, often going to John Taylor, who was working against cornerback Martin Mayhew.
"I had great protection today," Montana said. "On a whole, our guys did a helluva job up front."
Montana, who completed 29 of 44 passes for 390 yards, brushed aside his latest personal accomplishment, surpassing Brodie. "These kind of marks can come and take care of themselves," he said.
But one mark Montana would like to match is Brodie's longevity. Brodie played 16 years between 1957-73. "I'd like to last as many years as he did," said Montana, who joined the 49ers in 1979.
He has 31,654 passing yards to Brodie's 31,548 yards.
Before the game, Montana said the key for San Francisco was stopping the Redskins' blitz and finding the receiver with the hot hand. He had plenty of time today to find numerous open receivers.
"They only got us once or twice on a blitz when I had to throw the ball away," he said.
The Redskins didn't utilize the blitz much. "We didn't blitz them as much as we could have," said linebacker Wilber Marshall. With plenty of time, Montana found his own posse of receivers. Taylor, caught eight passes for 160 yards and one touchdown; Jerry Rice pulled in six receptions for 74 yards and one touchdown; tight end Brent Jones had with five catches for 69 yards; and Roger Craig caught four passes for 42.
San Francisco's special teams quietly had an outstanding day as place kicker Mike Cofer was perfect on four field goal attempts of 31, 29, 26, and 34 yards.
"The offense did a heckuva job moving the ball, which made for shorter field goal attempts for me," said Cofer.
The 49ers were generally pleased with their overall performance but said they have a long way to go to reach the level of play that won them to two consecutive Super Bowl championships.
"We're not playing championship ball right now," said Burt, "but we're heading for it."
Several 49ers said they will probably play the Redskins again later this year. "I think we'll see them somewhere down the line," said safety Dave Waymer, alluding to a potential playoff matchup down the road.