San Francisco 49ers

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 21:43

The history of the San Francisco 49ers

About the NFL team San Francisco 49ers.

In 1946, most of the professional football teams that played in America were based in the East and Midwest regions. One of the first franchises based in the West is the San Francisco 49ers. Based in San Francisco, California, the team first began playing as part of the Western Division of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). They played in the league from 1946 to 1949. In 1950, the AAFC merged with the National Football League (NFL) and became an NFL franchise. While competing in the NFL, they have become a member of the National Conference (1950-1952), the Western Conference  (1953-1969), and the National Football Conference (1970-present). Since their entry into the National Football Conference (NFC), they have played in the NFC West Division.

Early beginning and transition to the NFL

The San Francisco 49ers first entered into professional football in 1946. The team name comes from the California Gold Rush, which brought gold seekers to the area in 1849. As a member of the AAFC, the 49ers were a strong competitor. They continually finished second in the league behind the Cleveland Browns. The 49ers were admitted into the NFL after the 1949 season. The 49ers had a difficult time finding success in the league.

While the team recorded a winning season in 1957, the 49ers continued to struggle throughout the '60s. In 1957, the 49ers had a regular season record of 8-4, which brought them to the playoffs where they would compete against the Detroit Lions for the NFL Western Division. The 49ers lost in what would be their last playoff appearance for 13 years. Throughout the '60s, the 49ers struggled. During the '63 and '64 seasons, the 49ers had records of 2-12 and 4-10, respectively. Aside from these abysmal seasons, the team would hover around the .500 mark throughout the 1960s. It was during this time that Red Hickey, the team's head coach, would create the shotgun formation, which is a popular offensive formation that is found in most of the playbooks of today's football teams.

Success and failure in the '70s

From 1970 to 1972, the San Francisco 49ers finally began to show some promise. The 49ers ended the 1970 regular season with a record of 10-3-1, which brought them to the playoffs where they would win their first NFC West Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings. For the NFC Championship Game, the franchise would go against the Dallas Cowboys, who beat the 49ers, 17-10. One year later, the team pulled off a repeat, winning the divisional title against the Washington Redskins. Again, they faced the Cowboys for the NFC Championship Game, who beat them for the second year in a row. For the third consecutive year, the 49ers would met with the Cowboys for the NFC Championship Game. For the third time, the Cowboys defeated the 49ers in what would be the team's last playoff appearance for eight years.

Throughout the rest of the 1970s, the San Francisco 49ers would experience one of the most difficult periods in their history. After reaching the NFC Championships three consecutive times, the team would record numerous losing seasons. Although the mid and latter '70s proved to be quite unsuccessful, it was during 1979 that the team would acquire one of the greatest players in NFL history, Joe Montana.

The golden years

From 1979 up to the turn of the century, the 49ers were able to make and break numerous records. Bill Walsh became the team's head coach in 1978 and he and the franchise were able to draft Joe Montana in 1979. Walsh implemented a new offensive strategy that consisted of short plays to gain 4-6 yards consistently. With their new style of play, the 49ers had only two wins and fourteen losses in the 1979 season. In 1980, Joe Montana finally gained starting position as the team's quarterback. He gained the trust of his teammates and coach after leading the team to the biggest regular-season comeback in NFL history. At the time, the 49ers had a season record of 0-13 and they were down against the New Orleans Saints, 35-7. They came back to win the game 38-35 and Montana became the starting quarterback.

After this disappointing year, the 49ers turned things around and they were able to end the 1981 season with a 13-3 record, which made franchise history as the best record of the team. After beating the New York Giants in the divisional playoffs, they would meet their long-time rival, the Dallas Cowboys. This time, they would defeat the Cowboys to make their first Super Bowl appearance against the Cincinnati Bengals. They won Super Bowl XVI with a score of 26-21; no team had ever gone 2-14 in the season prior to winning in the Super Bowl.

The 49ers hit another slump in 1982, which was a season that was shortened due to strikes. The team had a record of 3-6 before the season ended. In the following year, they were able to make a comeback to make it to the playoffs once again. They were defeated in the NFC Championship game by the Washington Redskins. This would not faze the team as they took 1984 by storm, building up one of the best seasons in franchise history, with a record of 15-1. They made it to the Super Bowl again in Super Bowl XIX against Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers won their second Super Bowl.

The team would experience continued success throughout the '80s and '90s. They won their third Super Bowl game against the Bears in 1988 (Super Bowl XXIII). Again, in 1989, the team would make it to the Super Bowl to defeat the Denver Broncos 55-10. Joe Montana was named the Super Bowl MVP for the third time in his career. In 1990, the team made it to the conference championships, only to be defeated by the New York Giants. Joe Montana suffered elbow injuries and he would be replaced by another NFL great, Steve Young. Young led the team to the NFC Championships against the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 and 1993, but they were defeated by the Cowboys both times. The 49ers decided to trade Joe Montana in 1993, making Steve Young the full-time quarterback.

In 1994, the 49ers made NFL history as the first team to win five Super Bowl Championship Games. In Super Bowl XXIX, Steve Young and the 49ers were able to beat the San Diego Chargers 38-28. For the following 3 years, the 49ers would make it to the finals, but they would be eliminated by the Green Bay Packers on each occasion.

The 49ers: 2000 and beyond

Following their undeniable success in the '80s and '90s, the San Francisco 49ers would be plagued by problems from 2000 to the present (2008). Their only successful seasons throughout this period came in 2001 (12-4) and 2002 (10-6). From injuries and staff changes to weak offense and inconsistent defense, the 49ers would continue to have losing records. Overall, the total record of the San Francisco 49ers from 1946-2007 is 513 wins, 406 losses and 15 ties.