Was 49ers’ sublime opener vs. Steelers their best ever?

The only game that compares with 30-7 win over Pittsburgh was 1994 blowout of L.A. Raiders

Remember that the Pittsburgh Steelers are supposed to be quite good.

And they were at home.

However, the game was over after Christian McCaffrey broke free for a 65-yard run on the first drive of the second half. The 49ers won 30-7 on Sunday, and it didn’t appear to be a close game.

“We got kicked in the teeth in a lot of areas,” said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

Only one other season-opening victory compares — a 44-14 victory over the Los Angeles Raiders at Candlestick Park to start the 1994 season.

It also happens to be the last season in which the 49ers won the Lombardi Trophy.

Because of their speed and athleticism, the Raiders were considered AFC contenders in their final season in Los Angeles before returning to Oakland. Against the 49ers, they might as well have been running in quicksand.

In that game, the 49ers took control in the second half after dominating the Steelers in the first. The 49ers led 23-14 at halftime and won easily in a celebration of wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Rice’s 127th career touchdown broke Jim Brown’s all-time NFL touchdown record after catching a 69-yard touchdown pass, running 23 yards for a touchdown, and finally tumbling into the end zone on a 38-yard scoring pass from Steve Young to close out the scoring.

The 49ers went on to win the Super Bowl after Young threw six touchdown passes against the San Diego Chargers, but it wasn’t easy after the opener.

The following week, they were defeated 24-17 by Young vs. Joe Montana in Kansas City. They were 3-2 after a 40-8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Candlestick Park, in which Young yelled at coach George Seifert for taking him out of a blowout loss.

Then came a 10-game winning streak during the regular season, a game-changing 38-28 victory over Dallas in the NFC Championship Game, and the Super Bowl victory over the Chargers in Miami.

The 49ers’ ability to do so will be tested over the next 16 games.

Consider the following 49ers openers in seasons that resulted in an NFC Championship or Super Bowl victory:

2019 — 49ers 31, Tampa Bay 17: The 49ers outscored the Bucs 25-10 in the second half to pull away, and Jameis Winston was intercepted three times. Richard Sherman returned one of the interceptions for a touchdown, and Ahkello Witherspoon returned the other. The 49ers won the NFC title but were defeated in the Super Bowl by the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-20.

2012 — 49ers 30, Green Bay 22: Frank Gore rushed for 112 yards and the 49ers rushed for 186 yards in a 23-7 victory at Lambeau Field. The 49ers finished 11-4-1, defeated Atlanta in the NFC championship game with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback, and lost 34-31 to Baltimore in the Super Bowl in a battle between Jim and John Harbaugh.

1994 — 49ers 44, Raiders 14: Brent Jones caught two touchdown passes, and Young was 19 of 32 for 308 yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers won their final Super Bowl with victories over Chicago (44-15), Dallas, and San Diego.

1989 — 49ers 30, Indianapolis 24: Joe Montana completed 15 of 26 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown in a win over the host Colts, who finished 8-8. Roger Craig carried the ball 24 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offense. Under coach George Seifert, the 49ers would go on to have one of the most dominant postseasons in NFL history, defeating Minnesota 41-13, the Los Angeles Rams 30-3, and finally Denver 55-10 in the Super Bowl.

1988 — 49ers 34, New Orleans 33: At the SuperDome, the 49ers trailed 17-10 at halftime but rallied in the second half. Montana threw three touchdown passes and held off Bobby Hebert’s four-touchdown performance. The 49ers finished 10-6, but beat Minnesota (34-9), Chicago (28-3) on the road (28-3) and finally Cincinnati (20-16) in the Super Bowl on a Montana-to-Taylor pass in the final game under coach Bill Walsh.

1984 — 49ers 30, Detroit 27: A 15-1 regular season followed by a convincing Super Bowl run began in Detroit with Ray Wersching’s game-winning 22-yard field goal. Montana completed 16 of 25 passes for 188 yards. Wersching connected on three field goals. The 49ers won the Super Bowl by defeating the New York Giants (21-10), the Chicago Bears (23-0), and the Miami Dolphins (38-16) at Stanford.

1981– Detroit 24, 49ers 17: Coming off a 6-10 season, the 49ers’ Cinderella season for their first Super Bowl title began with a road loss in Detroit when Billy Sims scored the game-winning touchdown from a yard out. Montana completed 18 of 28 passes for 195 yards but was sacked four times. The 49ers, on the other hand, finished 13-3 and advanced to the playoffs, defeating the New York Giants 38-24, Dallas 28-27 (The Catch), and finally Cincinnati 26-21 in Detroit, where they began the season.

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