Saints vs. 49ers: A Rivalry That Ain’t Dead Yet

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Feb 3, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; General view of the Pro Football Hall of Fame bust of Joe Montana at the NFL Experience at the Moscone Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


The year was 1980. The New Orleans Saints were opening their season with a home game against the San Francisco 49ers. Expectations were at an all-time high for the team. The Saints were coming off an encouraging 1979 season, finishing 8-8 with one of the league’s better offenses. The 49ers, on the other hand, were a laughingstock in 1979 with a 2-14 record.

Coming into the Superdome with a lowly regarded and little tested rookie quarterback out of Notre Dame named Joe Montana and an unproven head coach from Stanford named Bill Walsh, the 49ers upset the Saints 26-23 that day.

New Orleans collapsed, losing their next THIRTEEN in a row, on route to a 1-15 record, before a December re-match against the Niners in Fan Francisco. Saints QB Archie Manning was brilliant that day, staking the visiting Saints to a 35-7 3rd quarter lead. But suddenly (and unfortunately it wouldn’t end up being the last horrifying time), Joe Montana led the 49’ers from 28 points down, to lead San Francisco to a stunning come from behind 38-35 overtime victory.

Montana played the Saints a total of 19 times, and finished with a 15-4 record against the Saints; and in at least a handful of those games, led the 49ers to victory when the Saints had a lead late in the game.

Enough said.