The 49ers' rite of passage game. Tom Landry and the 'Boys were the dominant past which had suppressed the 49ers. No more. Montana to Clark. 28-27. Enter Bill Walsh to NFL hegemony.
1988 NFC Championship at Chicago
Having lost all 3 road playoff game in Walsh's tenure thus far, SF had a tough task at Soldier Field. Also, the Bears' vaunted 4-6 defense had been all the rage while the 49ers had been underachievers in the playoffs for the prior 3 years. Then Jerry Rice happened: 133 yards, 2 TDs. 9ers win 28-3.
1994 NFC Championship vs Cowboys
This was the real NFL championship that year. 3 straight years before, the 9ers had lost in the NFC Conference Championship. Montana's last 9ers playoff game vs the Giants started this streak. The last 2 years, the Cowboys had been the ones to eliminate them. Steve Young just couldn't win when it really counted. Then we jumped out to a 21-0 lead and won 38-28. I wasn't old enough to enjoy "The Catch", so this ranks as my favorite non-SB 49er game ever.
1998 Divisional Rd vs Packers
3 straight years we had been eliminated by Favre and the Green Packers. With 8 seconds left and down 4, Young drops back (nearly falls) and launches a perfect strike to a sandwiched TO. TO cried. 9ers overcame the Pack in Young's last playoff run ever.
2002 Wild Card vs Giants
The 49ers missed the postseason in consecutive seasons '99 and '00 (the first time since '79-'80), then were promptly dismissed by the Pack in '01. Then we found ourselves down 38-14 to the Giants in the 3rd quarter. Jeff Garcia proceeds to lead the 9ers on a 25-0 run to edge out NY 39-38. And, in the spirit of the game, I don't think you deserve pass interference if you mess up a field goal try that badly.
2011 Divisional Rd vs Saints
9 long years. No playoffs in 9 stinkin years. Then Harbaugh resurrects a franchise from 6 wins to 13 wins and a 1st round bye. Against NO, the 9ers jump out to a 17-0 lead but find themselves down 3 with mere seconds left. Alex Smith's strike to Vernon Davis conjures memories of Clark and TO's catches. Vernon Davis' cries 9er nation's cathartic tears.
2012 NFC Championship at Falcons
An anemic offense and 2 Kyle Williams turnovers on kick returns vs NY cost the 49ers a Superbowl spot a year ago. This year with a Kaepernick-led explosive offense, the 49ers turned a 17-0 deficit on the road vs Atlanta into glory. The defense shut out the Falcons in the 2nd half to book the long-awaited (18 years) trip back to the big game.