NFL - NFC WEST
2021-2022 TEAM LEADERS
San Francisco 49ers
Begun as a member of the All-American Football Conference in 1946, the 49ers just beat the Rams as the first professional sports team to play in California. Although the 49ers wouldn’t join the NFL until 1950, and by then the Rams had already won a division title in Los Angeles and had appeared in the championship game.
Still, a rivalry was born, and one that burns bright all these many decades later. It’s a rivalry between Southern California and Northern California, and it spills beyond the Giants vs. Dodgers, Warriors vs. Lakers, and 49ers vs. Rams.
Much of the early identity of the 49ers came from how they stacked up against the Rams. Not only were they geographical rivals, but they were also placed in the same conference in 1950, ensuring that the teams would meet twice a season. And in that first season of play, the Rams won twice.
In 1951, however, the 49ers finally got a win, intercepting Norm Van Brocklin six times on their way to a 44-17 win. The Rams went on to win the NFL Championship that season, beating the Browns, 24-17, but the 49ers had arrived. Although it would still be another 30 years before they were recognized as the best team in pro football.
Championships by the San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl XVI
The 49ers’ first Super Bowl win came out of nowhere. The team was 6-10 the year earlier and hadn’t been to the playoffs in eight seasons. Suddenly they were 13-3 and beating Cincinnati in the Silverdome, 26-21, and Joe Montana was winning the Super Bowl MVP. The year prior Montana was just 2-5 in the seven games he started.
Super Bowl XIX
From the improbable to the predictable, three years later Joe Montana was the best quarterback in the NFL and the 49ers were a dominant 15-1 team that boasted the best defense in the NFL.
The Dolphins were also great at 14-2 and had one of the best quarterbacks ever in Dan Marino. But they were no match for the superior 49ers, and San Francisco won easily, 38-16. Montana was again the Super Bowl MVP.
Super Bowl XXIII
It was the last time we saw head coach Bill Walsh and Joe Montana together, and it was perhaps their greatest comeback in history of comebacks. The Walsh-Montana dynasty began with a comeback against the Cowboys in the 1981 NFC Championship Game and culminated with the comeback against the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII.
At his own eight-yard line and with just 3:10 on the clock, Montana led the 49ers down the field for the game-winning drive, sealing the 20-16 victory with just 34 seconds left. Jerry Rice, with 11 catches for 215 yards, was the game’s MVP.
Super Bowl XXIV
Becoming the first team ever to win back-to-back Super Bowls with two different head coaches, George Seifert was in charge when the 49ers laid waste to the Broncos, 55-10. It remains the most lopsided Super Bowl in history, and Montana’s five touchdown passes were a record at the time. With 297 yards passing to go along with all those touchdowns, Montana won his third Super Bowl MVP.
Super Bowl XXIX
The reason Joe Montana no longer holds the record for most touchdown passes in a single Super Bowl is because of the six touchdowns thrown by Steve Young against the San Diego Chargers. It was another route for the 49ers, 49-26, and another Super Bowl win for head coach George Seifert.
Young’s record-setting performance won him the game’s MVP.
Key Stats by the San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers were winners in each of their first five Super Bowl appearances, but have appeared in two more since their win over the Chargers. They lost to the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII and the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.
Along with seven NFC titles, the 49ers have won their division 20 times, and have appeared in the playoffs a total of 27 times, which includes an AAFC playoff appearance in 1947.
The 49ers’ 32 postseason wins rank them fourth in NFL history.
Top Players in San Francisco 49ers History
When you think of great players with the San Francisco 49ers, you think quarterback.
Joe Montana won four Super Bowls, never throwing an interception on Super Bowl Sunday, and was an eight-time Pro Bowler. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. His successor, Steve Young, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 after three Super Bowl rings and twice being named the league’s MVP. As a dual-threat quarterback Young also ran for 4,239 yards and 43 touchdowns.
The great Y.A. Title also played quarterback for the 49ers, playing in four of his seven Pro Bowls while in San Francisco.
Two Hall of Fame wide receivers played with Montana and Young, in Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens. There might be no better safety to play in the NFL than Ronnie Lott. And on the same defense with Lott was two-time Super Bowl winning defensive end Fred Dean.
Defensive end Charles Haley finished with five Super Bowl wins in his career, two with the 49ers and three with the Cowboys, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.
Top Coaches in San Francisco 49ers History
There have been a number of great head coaches to pass through San Francisco. The team’s first head coach, Buck Shaw, won 72 of 116 games coached, including the franchise’s first-ever playoff win.
Jim Harbaugh took the 49ers to a Super Bowl and was the NFL Coach of the Year in 2011. Kyle Shanahan also won an NFC title and led the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
But it really is all about Bill Walsh when talking 49ers head coaches. He is the best coach in team history, and one of the best in NFL history. Along with his 102 wins and three Super Bowls in San Francisco, the Walsh coaching tree has produced Super Bowl winners George Seifert, Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Andy Reid, Tony Dungy, and Sean Payton.
Bill Walsh was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Frequently Asked Questions