Alex Smith's late touchdown run was part of the 49ers' comeback victory. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Niners fans know last season was something special and that one game above all others was the most magical of all – the 36-32 playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints.
After 13 wins in the regular season, an NFC West championship and a No. 2 seed in the playoffs, the 49ers were still underdogs in their own stadium to a high-powered New Orleans offense led by Drew Brees and Darren Sproles.
But the 49ers fought off every Saints punch and knocked them out to earn a trip to the NFC Championship Game against the Giants.
Now that game has been nominated – along with two others – for an ESPY in the Best Game category. The ESPYs will be televised July 11.
The other two games nominated are: 1) Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, a wild night in October when St. Louis beat Texas 10-9 in 11 innings, with the winning run coming on David Freese’s walk-off home run and 2) Kansas’ crazy 87-86 college basketball victory over Missouri in February in which the No. 4 Jayhawks overcame a 19-point second-half deficit to the No. 3 Tigers.
Fans can cast their votes on espn.go.com/espys.
The Niners’ victory featured a pair of clutch late-game plays – Alex Smith’s sprint to a touchdown and his throw to tight end Vernon Davis for the winning score – plus five lead changes and more than 400 yards of offense.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wrote that the game is “easily the best game I’ve covered in nine seasons” and challenged his readers to come up with a better nickname for the game than the one he chose: “Game of Throws.”
Reader nominees include: “Muting of the Bounty” (regarding the Saints’ bounty scandal), “The Resurrection” and “The Saints Go Marching Home.”
Whatever you call it, the 49ers-Saints game was special and memorable. Now we’ll see if voters across the country believe it’s the best game of the past year.
Said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh after the playoff victory in January: “We move on, and we move on in spectacular fashion.”
After Smith connected with Davis for the game-winner with nine seconds left, Candlestick Park erupted in a deafening roar.
“Man it was loud,” 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis told reporters after the win. “It’s the loudest I’ve ever heard our stadium.”