The 49ers dominated the game right from the start.
On the opening kickoff, a 15-yard facemask penalty on Chargers linebacker Doug Miller gave San Francisco the ball at their own 41-yard line. Then on the third play of the drive, 49ers quarterback Steve Young threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice. The 49ers became the second team to take the opening kickoff and score a touchdown on that first drive (the first being the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII). After forcing the Chargers to punt, the 49ers advanced 79 yards in four plays, scoring on a 51-yard touchdown pass from Young to running back Ricky Watters to give San Francisco a 14-0 lead less than 5 minutes into the first quarter.
The Chargers responded on their ensuing possession, marching 78 yards in 13 plays and taking more than 7 minutes off the clock. Running back Natrone Means finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to cut San Diego's deficit to 14-7. But the 49ers quickly countered after the ensuing kickoff, driving 70 yards in 10 plays, and Young threw his third touchdown pass of the game to fullback William Floyd for 5 yards, increasing the lead 21-7
Later in the second quarter, Chargers punter Bryan Wagner's 40-yard punt from his own 9-yard line gave the 49ers the ball at the San Diego 49. San Francisco then marched on a 9-play drive to score on Young's fourth touchdown pass, an 8-yard toss to Watters with 4:44 left in the half. The Chargers then took the ensuing kickoff and drove 62 yards from their own 25-yard line to the San Francisco 13. But after 3 incomplete passes, they were forced to settle for kicker John Carney's 31-yard field goal, cutting their deficit to 28-10.
A 33-yard completion from Young to tight end Brent Jones helped the 49ers reach the San Diego 29-yard line on their next possession, but Young's third down pass to Jones was overthrown and rookie kicker Doug Brien missed a 47-yard field goal attempt. The Chargers then drove to their own 46-yard line, but 4...