LISTEN: 49ers Make A Statement →
placeholder image

Peter Brouillet-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Throwback: From Bust to Niners Great

Aug 5, 2023 at 3:10 PM--

Videos are auto-populated by an affiliate. This site has no control over the videos that appear above.
The San Francisco 49ers' 36-30 Week 1 overtime victory against the New York Jets to open the 1998 season could be one of the best opening games in team history.

Steve Young and New York Jets quarterback Glenn Foley would light up their opposing defenses with a combined 778 passing yards and six touchdown passes, but the difference maker was 49ers running back Garrison Hearst, who rushed for 187 yards and two touchdowns, including the incredible 96-yard, game-winning touchdown run in overtime.

The Jets' running game was non-existent, with 59 yards rushing, but Foley passed for 415 yards.

Hearst, who rushed for 3,232 yards and 33 touchdowns in three seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs, was drafted third overall by the Phoenix Cardinals in 1993.

Coming out of college, Hearst had the potential to be among the great NFL running backs of the 90s, but his NFL career was stalled by two injury-plagued seasons.

The Cardinals waived Hearst after three seasons. He started 12 games for the Bengals and rushed for 847 yards but did not earn a rushing touchdown.

The 49ers signed Hearst in 1997, where he became an instant impact by rushing for 1,019 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games.

After an embarrassing 23-10 home loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers started the season wanting to atone for missing out on a Super Bowl XXXII appearance.

On a beautiful 71-degree afternoon at 3Com Park (Candlestick Park), the New York Jets, coming off a 9-7 season, hoped to make the playoffs for the first time since losing 17-10 to the Houston Oilers in 1991.

After free safety Kevin Williams intercepted a Young pass on the 49ers' first drive, the Jets were the first to get on the board with a 24-yard field goal by John Hall.

The 49ers eventually got on the board with a Hearst 5-yard touchdown run, making the score 3-7.

The Jets offense started to catch fire with a Glenn Foley 41-yard touchdown pass to third-year wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson to retake the lead, 10-7.

Young led the 49ers down the field with a six-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Stokes, giving his team a 14-10 lead. However, the Jets ended the first half with a Foley six-yard touchdown pass to receiver Wayne Chrebet, taking a 17-14 lead.

At the start of the third quarter, the 49ers tied the game 17-17 with a Wade Richey 22-yard field goal.

Foley and Johnson hooked up again for a 21-yard touchdown pass and a Jets 24-17 lead.

Jerry Rice, who suffered an ACL injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 1997 season, made a miraculous return on a December 15 Monday night game against the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, where he had three receptions for 40-yards and a touchdown after getting hit by safety Steve Atwater, falling hard on his knee.

The future Hall of Famer did not return for the remainder of the season but came back strong in the Week 1 battle with six receptions for 86 yards and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Young to make the score 24-23.

A Hall 32-yard field goal extended the Jets' lead 27-23 before the 49ers put together a five-play, 76-yard drive that ended with Stokes catching a 31-yard touchdown pass from the one-time league MVP. The 49ers took a 30-27 lead with 1:32 left in the game.

Stokes led the team with 111 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

Foley took the Jet's offense down the field but settled to tie the game at 30-30 to send the game into overtime.

The Jets won the overtime toss but went three-and-out in their first drive, punting the ball to the 49ers, who also went three-and-out.

The Jets got the ball back at their 21 and moved it 26 yards before a Nick Gallery punt pinned the 49ers at their four-yard line.

While being pinned inside their five-yard line, the 49ers ran a simple dive play to Hearst, where the offensive line and fullback Marc Edwards opened up a big hole for the former Bulldog to get to the second level of the Jets defense, and he took it for a 96-yard game-winning touchdown run.

During the run, Hearst used a vicious stiff arm against a Jets defender and turned safety Otis Smith around with a simple step in and out move up the field while third-year receiver Terrell Owens, who was on the other side of the field, escorted Hearst into the end zone.

The 49ers finished the season 12-4. They hosted a playoff game against the Packers, finally beating their playoff nemesis with a memorable and exciting 30-27 win.

Unfortunately, their season ended after Hearst broke his fibula on the first play of the Divisional Round, and the 49ers offense struggled in a 20-18 loss to the eventual NFC Champions, the Atlanta Falcons.

Hearst's injury set his career back two years, but when he returned, he rushed for 1,206 yards and four touchdowns, winning the 2001 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.

Hearst, cut by the 49ers after the 2003 season, is ranked fifth in team history for career rushing yards with 5,535.
  • Written by:
    Sports has been my first love since I was 12 years old. At one point I wanted to play football professionally. I started to take photography as a hobby in my teenage years but this was when I followed sports. I started to listen to sports radio, I found my true calling and it was to be a sports talk show host. Though I follow football and basketball, I started to have a new love of cultures around the world. After graduating from San Antonio College in 2018, I worked for the Castroville News Bulletin before going to A&M San Antonio to get my communications degree. Since I have written for the Ranger of San Antonio College, the News Bulletin and the Mesquite of Texas A&M San Antonio, I met many people and went to a lot of events. My major milestone was being in the press box of the San Antonio Commanders game for the Mesquite and being apart of a press conference with the Medina County Sheriff and other local news outlets. When I am not doing anything, I like to watch old cartoons on the DC Universe, play video games such as Mega Man and the Mass Effect series. I have also created Youtube channel called "Anger Management" with my friend Aaron Donnell.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

Facebook Comments

More San Francisco 49ers News

placeholder image

No Huddle Podcast: 49ers Thanksgiving Revenge And Philly Week

By Site Staff
Nov 27

(Episode 289) - Brian Renick is joined by Jason Aponte, the host of the Sprint Right Option podcast and also a Niners Nation contributor. The guys react to the Seahawks' win, the biggest takeaways on offense and defense, the NFC playoff picture, and Philly week! The audio for the show is embedded above. Don't forget to subscribe! You can listen to the latest "No Huddle Podcast" episode above, from our dedicated podcast page, on

placeholder image

49ers bring in familiar face for workout amidst roster injuries

By David Bonilla
Nov 27

The San Francisco 49ers are turning to a familiar face for a workout following injuries to two safeties, Talanoa Hufanga and George Odum. Hufanga suffered a torn ACL in Week 11, while Odum sustained a torn biceps on Thanksgiving. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, veteran defensive back Anthony Averett will work out for the 49ers on Monday. Averett briefly joined San Francisco's roster during training camp in August but was released with an injury settlement on August 17. Veteran DB Anthony Averett is working out today for the

placeholder image

Christian McCaffrey achieves milestone last seen with the 49ers by Frank Gore

By David Bonilla
Dec 3

Christian McCaffrey rushed for 1,139 yards last season, marking his third time surpassing 1,000 yards in his NFL career. Of course, he accomplished this feat during his time with the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers. Entering Week 13, McCaffrey led the league with 939 rushing yards, requiring only 61 more to secure his fourth career season surpassing the 1,000-yard mark. He achieved this milestone in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles, becoming the first 49ers running back to reach 1,000 rushing yards since Frank Gore did so in 2014 with 1,106 rushing yards. McCaffrey was on pace for 1,451 rushing yards leading up to the game, a potential single-season career-high. Additionally, he was on track to rack up 2,052 all-purpose yards, which

placeholder image

"It was a lot of boo hoos last year": Haason Reddick shares thoughts on 49ers-Eagles rematch

By David Bonilla
Nov 27

Whenever the San Francisco 49ers reflect on their NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles, they believe they didn't have a fair shot. Despite confidence in their game plan for last season's matchup, the game took an unexpected turn when quarterback Brock Purdy suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his throwing arm early on. After the NFC title game loss, the 49ers expressed their confidence in the locker room, firmly believing that, at worst, the game would have been a much closer contest than the 31-7 defeat. RELATED: 49ers begin week as favorites against


Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone