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Frozen tundra doesn’t stop the Faithful: 49ers have strong history in cold-weather games

Frozen tundra doesn’t stop the Faithful: 49ers have strong history in cold-weather games

It’s looking like the 49ers will get another taste of just how frigid Green Bay can be in the winter when they kick off Saturday night at Lambeau Field.

Current forecasts show the weather for Saturday night in Wisconsin is expected to be in the single digits for most of the game, with winds between 5-10 mph and around a 10 percent chance of precipitation. It’s not likely to get to Ice Bowl levels of cold (temperature at -15, wind chill around -46 according to a new National Weather Service measurement) in Green Bay, but you probably won’t find anyone wearing shorts, either.

Things can always change meteorologically, of course, but it’s clear this will be one of the coldest games in San Francisco 49ers history — even if not out of the ordinary for the Packers, who have hosted at least a half-dozen games in single-digit or negative temperature before. But there’s a funny thing about the Bay Area dwellers used to our moderate year-round weather: No matter when in 49ers history they’ve gone north to play in the cold, they’ve found a way to emerge victorious, even if a little frozen.

Here’s a look back at the three-coldest (and one extra) playoff games in 49ers history (Year is the NFL season the game was played in):

1970 NFC divisional round: 49ers 17, Vikings 14 in Bloomington, Minnesota

The opening to the Game of the Week video that’s still on YouTube hammered the weather home right away. “In Minnesota, this was known as a perfect day for football: clear, crisp and a pleasant 8 degrees above zero. Just what the doctor didn’t order for the Vikings’ enemy from the balmy Bay of San Francisco.” In the first year after the NFL-AFL merger and the aligning into two conferences and three divisions, were the top two teams in the NFC, but the playoff matchups were predetermined during this time, so the 10-3-1 49ers had to go to the 12-2 Vikings while the Cowboys hosted the Lions, both with 10-4 records. The weather surely impacted each team’s grip on the ball, with a combined eight fumbles. But quarterback John Brodie was able to find air success even in the cold, completing 16-of-32 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. He also ran in a touchdown with 1:20 left to push the 49ers up 17-7. The Vikings drove down as quickly as they could and tacked on a touchdown but with only one second left, sending Dick Nolan’s underdog 49ers back to San Francisco with a win. But the NFC Championship would be the first of three straight playoff losses to the Cowboys in the 1970s, a 17-10 defeat in the 49ers’ final game at Kezar Stadium.

1981 Super Bowl XVI*: 49ers 26, Bengals 21 in Pontiac, Michigan

So we’re cheating a little bit on this one, as the actual game for the 49ers’ first Super Bowl win was played inside the Pontiac Silverdome. But the weather outside the stadium was absolutely miserable and even made an impact on the 49ers, so we’re including it here. Outside temperature was around 13, but with freezing rain and wind chills down around -21 compounding on the snow-covered ground. Traffic was a nightmare getting to the Silverdome, and the unexpected arrival of Vice President George H.W. Bush only made it worse. In fact, the 49ers bus bringing head coach Bill Walsh, quarterback Joe Montana and others was stuck in the traffic and didn’t arrive until 90 minutes before kickoff. But as Montana recently detailed on his Peacock series, Walsh kept spirits loose, joking that the 49ers already had a lead thanks to team staffers scoring touchdowns. Once they got there and got on the field, the weather and the delayed arrival didn’t seem to matter, as San Francisco stormed out to a 20-0 lead and held on for their first Super Bowl title.

1988 NFC Championship: 49ers 28, Bears 3 in Chicago

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