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STUDIO: Warner Bros.
MSRP: $19.98
RUNNING TIME: 335 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: 49ers Featurettes

Check out reviews for other releases in this series:

- Ian’s take on the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins sets here and here.

- Jeremy’s take on the Oakland Raiders set here.

- My take on the Dallas Cowboys set here.

The Pitch

“Remember when the Niners were great? Yeah, me neither, but here’s some film footage to prove it.”

The Humans

Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, coaches Bill Walsh and George Seifert

The Chargers were the first team to use only spotlights during night

games as a way of confounding their opponents.

The Nutshell

The San Francisco 49ers won five Super Bowl Championships between 1981 and 1994, including four wins during the 80’s that crowned them the best team of that decade in many peoples’ eyes. Legendary coach Bill Walsh directed three Super Bowl wins with his patented West Coast Offense that emphasized a tightly-scripted series of short pass plays instead of a running game to achieve first downs. In 1989, Walsh handed the coach’s headset to George Seifert, who helped the team win two more Super Bowls.

Joe Montana served as the quarterback/on-field coach through the 80’s, passing to wide receiver Jerry Rice (the best receiver the NFL has ever seen) and handing off to high-kicking running back Roger Craig. Human torpedo Ronnie Lott commanded the Niners defense through those years, cutting down anyone who tried to catch a pass over the middle. Perennial bench warmer Steve Young took over the quarterback duties from an aging Montana and led the 49ers to their most recent Super Bowl victory in 1994.

To enhance his rage and intensity before a game, Ronnie thought

about Bob Sagat’s comedy career.

The Package

This two-disc set, like the other Super Bowl Champions DVD set I reviewed, is long on game footage but short on interesting extra features. All of the features consist of interview and clip segments about players and coaches. The first disc has two featurettes, one titled The 49er Family that is basically a look at the enduring influence of Bill Walsh on the team. The other highlights the awesome stopping power of Ronnie Lott. The disc two features focus on the individual achievements of Craig, Rice and Young as well as a breakdown of the incredible drive that led to the win in Super Bowl XXIII. Montana’s featurette is strangely absent, but maybe someone thought he had received enough attention in the main films. That’s a bad decision, I think, but nobody asked me.

The video and audio quality vary greatly between the old and new footage. All but the newest films are sub-par and should not have been released digitally without a cleanup. I’d be shocked if the NFL couldn’t afford to restore their film archives. It would be a big job, but one that would at least merit a release on DVD or any future formats.

"Mom! I need more soup!"

The Lowdown

If you like the San Francisco 49ers, I feel sorry for you now, but beyond that I don’t think you will be happy with this set. More than half of the film clips emphasize rehashing the various seasons and the efforts of a lot of other teams that you probably don’t care about. It’s nice to have some perspective on the road your team had to travel to get to each championship game, but that stuff shouldn’t overshadow the material you really want: the best clips from the playoffs and Super Bowls.

For better nostalgia, I would prefer to see the complete Super Bowl games as they aired on TV, but NFL Films doesn’t work that way. They stand behind the scenes, offering their unique brand of documentary filmmaking that undoubtedly records all the action in the stadium, but loses a little bit of the power and excitement that the full contests provide. This set is not worthy of your hard-earned scratch.

5 out of 10

Musburger achieved happiness through the successes of others.