American Football Wiki
San Francisco 49ers
Established June 4, 1944
Play in Levi's Stadium,
Santa Clara, California
San Francisco 49ers helmet
San Francisco 49ers logo
Helmet Logo
League/Conference affiliations

All-America Football Conference (1946-1949)

  • Western Division (1946-1948)

National Football League (1950–present)

Current uniform
NFL-NFC-SF 49ers Jerseys.png
Team colors Red and Gold
Mascot Sourdough Sam
Owner(s): Denise DeBartolo York
Team President Jed York
General Manager John Lynch
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Team history
  • San Francisco 49ers (1946–present)
San Francisco 49ers Historical Teams
1946 1947 1948 1949
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2020 2021 2022 2023 2024

Team Nicknames Niners, The Red And Gold, Bay Bombers, Garnet & Gold (in the 50s & 60s, not sure when this changed)

League Championships (5)

Conference Championships (7)
  • NFC: 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1994, 2012, 2019
Division Championships (20)
  • NFC West: 1970, 1971, 1972, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2011, 2012, 2019
Home fields
  • Kezar Stadium (1946-1970)
  • Candlestick Park (1971-2013)
    • a.k.a. 3Com Park at Candlestick Point (1995-2002)
    • a.k.a. San Francisco Stadium at Candlestick Point (2002-2004)
    • a.k.a. Monster Park (2004-2008)
  • Levi's Stadium (2014-present)

The San Francisco 49ers are an NFL team. The team plays their home games in Santa Clara, California, while the club's headquarters and practice facility are adjacent to the stadium. They are currently members of the Western Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL).

The team is legally and corporately registered as the San Francisco Forty Niners, Ltd.[1] They began play in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and joined the NFL in 1950 after part of the AAFC was merged into the older league. The team is currently tied with the second most Super Bowl victories (five) with the Dallas Cowboys, behind only the six victories of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They were the only team with two or more appearances and no defeats in the Super Bowl, but lost an extremely controversial and poorly officiated game in Super Bowl XLVII. The 49ers teams of the 1980s and 1990s are considered to be among the greatest teams in NFL history. Many of the NFL's greatest players (including Joe Montana, Steve Young, Dwight Clark, Ronnie Lott and Jerry Rice) played for the 49ers during this period. Additionally, some of the most memorable plays (including "The Catch") and games (including Super Bowl XIX) were played by these teams.

Franchise history

The San Francisco 49ers were the first major league professional sports franchise to be based in San Francisco, and one of the first professional sports teams based on the west coast of the United States.

The 49ers have won five NFL championships – all Super Bowls. They were the first team to win five Super Bowls (Super Bowls XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV, and XXIX) and are the only team to compete in more than one Super Bowl - and win every Super Bowl they've played in, except for Super Bowl XLVII. They are considered "The Team of the Eighties", winning four Super Bowls in the decade. Prior to the 80s, the 49ers had never won an NFL championship (they did not even win a division title until 1970). During the 1980s, they failed to make the playoffs only twice — in 1980, and again in the strike-shortened 1982 season which saw them go 0-5 at home and 3-1 on the road — the only time in NFL history that a team went winless at home while winning more than half its away games in the same season.

AAFC years: 1946-49

The team's nickname came from the California Gold Rush gold-seekers who came to the San Francisco Bay Area, starting in 1849.

The 49ers entered professional football in 1946 as a member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). The team was founded for $25,000 by Bay Area lumber magnates Tony Morabito (as owner) and his brother Vic (as President). The brothers invested well in their leadership, hiring legendary coach Buck Shaw for $25,000 (unheard of at the time), and popular Stanford quarterback Frank Albert for $10,000. Though the 49ers could never unseat the dominant Cleveland Browns, they nonetheless were a strong second-best team in the league. Upon the dissolution of the league after the 1949 season, the 49ers, along with the Cleveland Browns and the first Baltimore Colts were granted admission to the National Football League in 1950.

Early NFL years: 1950-1969

The 49ers struggled in their first several seasons in the NFL, unlike their AAFC counterparts the Browns, who won the NFL championship in their first season in the NFL in 1950.

In 1957 the 49ers would enjoy their first sustained success. After losing the opening game of the season, the 49ers won their next three games against the Rams, Bears and Packers before returning home to Kezar Stadium for a game against the Chicago Bears. The 49ers fell behind the Bears 17-7. Tragically, 49ers founder and owner Tony Morabito collapsed of a heart attack and died during the game. The 49ers players found out about it at halftime when coach Frank Albert was handed a note with two words: "Tony's gone." With tears running down their faces, and motivated to win for their departed owner, the 49ers scored 14 unanswered points to win the game, 21-17.

The 49ers would finish the season with three straight victories and an 8-4 record, tying the Detroit Lions for the NFL Western Division and setting up a one-game divisional playoff in San Francisco. The 49ers got off to a fast start and in the third quarter led 24-7. Yet the Lions, led by quarterback Tobin Rote, who earlier in the season had replaced an injured Bobby Layne, would mount one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history at that time and ultimately defeat the 49ers, 31-27. The appearance would be the last time the 49ers would make in the playoffs for thirteen seasons. Had they won the game, the 49ers would have hosted the NFL Championship game the following weekend against the Cleveland Browns. The Lions ended up beating the Browns handily.

For most of the next thirteen years the 49ers would hover around .500, except for 1963 and 1964 when they went 2-12 and 4-10 respectively. Key players for these 49ers included running back Ken Willard, quarterback John Brodie and offensive lineman Bruce Bosley.

During this time the 49ers became the first NFL team to use the shotgun formation. It was named by the man who actually devised the formation, Niner head coach Red Hickey, in 1960. The formation, where the quarterback lines up seven yards behind the center, was designed to allow the quarterback extra time to throw. The formation was used for the first time in 1960 and enabled the 49ers to beat the Baltimore Colts who were not familiar with the formation.

In 1961, primarily using the shotgun the 49ers got off to a fast 4-1 start, including shutouts in back-to-back weeks. In their sixth game they faced the Chicago Bears who, by moving players closer to the line of scrimmage and rushing the quarterback, were able to defeat the shotgun and shut out the 49ers, 31-0. Though the 49ers would only go 3-5-1 the rest of the way, the shotgun would eventually become a component of most team's offenses and is a formation used by football teams at all levels.

In 1962 the 49ers had a frustrating season as they won only 6 games that year. They won only 1 game at Kezar while on the road they won 5 of 7 games. In 1964 Vic Morabito also succumbed to a heart attack, leaving the two Morabito widows as team owners, and longtime assistant Lou Spadia elevated to team President.

After posting losing records in the next 2 years, the 1965 49ers rebounded nicely to finish with a 7-6-1 record. They were led that year by John Brodie, who after being plagued by injuries came back to become one of the NFL's best passers by throwing for 3,112 yards and 30 touchdowns.

For the 1968 season the 49ers hired Dick Nolan as their head coach, who had been Tom Landry's defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys. Nolan's first two seasons with the 49ers had gone much the same as the previous decade, with the 49ers going 7-6-1 and 4-8-2.

First success: 1970-1972

The 49ers started out the 1970 season 7-1-1, their only loss a one-point defeat to Atlanta. After losses to Detroit and Los Angeles, the 49ers won their next two games before the season finale against the Oakland Raiders. Going into the game the 49ers had a half-game lead on the Rams and needed either a win or the Giants to defeat the Rams in their finale to give the 49ers their first ever divisional title.

In the early game the Giants were crushed by the Rams 30-3, thus forcing the 49ers to win their game to clinch the division. In wet and rainy conditions in Oakland, the 49ers dominated the Raiders, 38-7, to give the 49ers their first ever divisional championship as champions of the NFC West.

The 49ers won their divisional playoff game 17-14 against the defending conference champion Minnesota Vikings, thus setting up a matchup against the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC Championship. In what would be the final home game for the 49ers at Kezar Stadium the 49ers played the Cowboys close before losing, 17-10, thus giving the Cowboys their first conference championship.

The 49ers sent five players to the Pro Bowl that season, including MVP veteran quarterback John Brodie, wide receiver Gene Washington and linebacker Dave Wilcox. Nolan was also named NFL Coach of the Year for 1970.

Following the 1970 season the 49ers moved from Kezar Stadium to Candlestick Park. Despite being located on the outskirts of the city, Candlestick Park gave the 49ers a much more modern facility with better amenities, that was easier for fans to access by highway.

The 49ers won their second straight divisional title in 1971 with a 9-5 record. The 49ers again won their divisional playoff game against the Washington Redskins by a 24-20 final score. This set up a rematch against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game, this time to be played in Dallas. Though the defense again held the Cowboys in check, the 49ers offense was ineffective and the eventual Super Bowl champion Cowboys beat the 49ers again, 14-3.

In 1971 eight 49ers made the Pro Bowl, including defensive back Jimmy Johnson and Gene Washington, both for the second year in a row, as well as defensive end Cedrick Hardman, running back Vic Washington and offensive lineman Forrest Blue.

The 49ers won their third consecutive NFC West championship in 1972 with five wins in their last six games, making them the only franchise to win their first three divisional titles after the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Their opponents in the divisional playoffs would once again be the Dallas Cowboys, making it the third year in a row the teams faced each other in the playoffs.

Vic Washington took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a score and the 49ers took a 21-6 lead in the second quarter. After the 49ers took a 28-13 lead in the 4th quarter, Tom Landry sent in quarterback Roger Staubach, who was backing up Craig Morton, into the game. Staubach led the Cowboys to a dramatic 30-28 victory, and the 49ers had suffered yet another crushing playoff defeat.

The defeat would have a chilling effect on the 49ers, as they would not make the playoffs in the next eight seasons.

Bottoming out: 1973-1978

The 49ers run at the top of the NFC West ended in 1973 with the 49ers falling to a 5-9 record, their worst since 1969. The team lost six of its last eight games, including games to the also-ran New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions. In the final season of his career, longtime 49ers quarterback John Brodie split playing time with two other quarterbacks, most notably longtime backup Steve Spurrier. The team also suffered from not having a dominant running back, with Vic Washington leading the team with only 534 yards rushing.

In 1974 the 49ers drafted Wilbur Jackson from the University of Alabama to be the team's primary back. Jackson enjoyed a fine rookie year, leading the 49ers with 705 yards rushing. He and fellow running back Larry Schreiber combined for over 1300 yards rushing. With Spurrier injured and missing nearly the entire year, the 49ers did not have a regular quarterback but did put together a respectable 6-8 record. Following the season, longtime tight end Ted Kwalick left the 49ers to join the World Football League (he would join the Oakland Raiders upon the WFL's dissolution.)

The 49ers dropped back down to 5-9 in what would be Dick Nolan's final season as coach in 1975, the 49ers losing their final four games of the season. Wilbur Jackson was hurt much of the year and Delvin Williams led the 49ers in rushing with 631 yards rushing.

Following the 1975 season the 49ers traded for New England Patriots quarterback Jim Plunkett, former Heisman Trophy winner from nearby Stanford University (which was also the alma mater of John Brodie). Though Plunkett had shown promise with the Patriots he had not won there and it was thought that he needed a change of scenery. Monte Clark was also brought on as 49ers Head Coach.

The 49ers were led by one of the best running games in the NFL in 1976. Delvin Williams emerged as an elite back, gaining over 1200 yards rushing and would make the Pro Bowl. Wilbur Jackson also enjoyed a resurgence, rushing for 792 yards. Once again Gene Washington was the teams leading receivers with 457 yards receiving and six scores.

The 49ers started the season 6-1 for their best start since 1970. Most of the wins were against second-tier teams although the 49ers did shut out the Rams 16-0, in Los Angeles. In that game the 49ers recorded 10 sacks, including 6 by Tommy Hart. However the 49ers lost four games in a row, including two against divisional rivals Los Angeles and Atlanta that proved fatal to their playoff hopes.

During the off season a new era dawned for the Forty Niners. The Morabito Widows accepted an offer to sell 85% of the team for $17.5 million, cutting the family's share to 5%. The new owner was Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., heir to a large family-owned real estate corporation. And DeBartolo wasted no time shaking things up. Despite finishing the season with a winning record of 8-6, coach Clark was fired after just one season by new general manager Joe Thomas, who would oversee the worst stretch of football in the team's history to that time.

Under coach Ken Meyer the 49ers would lose their first five games of the 1977 season, including being shut out twice. Though they would win five of their next six they would lose their last three games to finish the season 5-9. Playing in San Francisco proved not to revive Plunkett's career as he had another disappointing season, throwing only 9 touchdown passes. Bright spots for the 49ers included defensive linemen Tommy Hart and Cleveland Elam, who made the Pro Bowl, and running backs Wilbur Jackson and Delvin Williams, who combined for over 1600 yards rushing. Gene Washington again led the team in receiving in 1977, which would be his final year with the 49ers.

The 1977 offseason was marked by a number of questionable moves by Thomas that backfired badly. Thomas's big offseason acquisition was running back O.J. Simpson from the Buffalo Bills. As had been thought with Plunkett two years previously, it was thought that rescuing Simpson from a bad situation and bringing him to the area of the country he had been raised would rejuvenate his career. To create playing time for Simpson, Thomas traded Delvin Williams to the Miami Dolphins for wide receiver Freddie Solomon. Thomas also released Jim Plunkett, giving up on him after two seasons. Finally, Thomas fired Meyer after only one season, and replaced him with Pete McCulley, his third coach in three seasons.

The 1978 season was a disaster for the 49ers as they finished the year 2-14, their only wins coming against the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Simpson indeed led the team in rushing, but with less than 600 yards. It had become apparent that Simpson's knees and body were shot and he was clearly near the end of his career. Wilbur Jackson also missed the entire season due to injury. McCulley would only last nine games with the team, being fired after compiling a 1-8 record. His replacement was Ken Meyer, who went 1-6 to end the season.

However some of the key players that would be part of the 49ers stunning rise to emergence would begin their 49ers career in 1978. Rookie quarterback Steve DeBerg, who would be Joe Montana's first mentor, was the 49ers starting quarterback. Running back Paul Hofer and center/guard Randy Cross also started with the 49ers in 1978.

Though more lean times lay ahead for the 49ers, the 1978 off-season would prove to be the launch point for the 49ers to achieve not only their best success in their history, but to put together one of the greatest championship runs in NFL history. It started with a new coach, an overlooked quarterback, and a little luck.

The Glory Days: 1979-1998

Bill Walsh years


Joe Montana and Jerry Rice

The team was led in its turnaround from late 1970s doormat by new owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. and head coach Bill Walsh. The former head coach of Stanford was known for stockpiling draft picks, making excellent draft selections, and patching roster holes by acquiring key free agents.

Bill Walsh was hired to be the 49ers head coach in the 1978 off-season. Walsh was a disciple of Paul Brown, and served as Brown's offensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1968 to 1975. However, Brown did not appoint him as his successor upon his retirement, ironically choosing another assistant, former 49ers center Bill "Tiger" Johnson. Desiring head coach experience, Walsh looked to Stanford University in 1977. He had had some success there before the 49ers tapped him to be their replacement.

Walsh is given credit for popularizing the 'West Coast offense', which is not entirely true. The Bill Walsh offense was actually created and refined while he was an assistant coach with Bengals. The offense utilizes a short, precise, timed passing game as a replacement/augmentation of the running game. The offense is extremely difficult to defend against as it is content to consistently make 6-8 yard gains all the way down the field. (The true West Coast offense -- more focused on the vertical, or downfield, passing game -- was actually created by 1960s L.A. / San Diego coach Sid Gillman, and developed by Sid Luckman and San Diego State coach Don Coryell, who also employed a version of it as head coach of the San Diego Chargers.)

In Walsh's first draft, the 49ers had targeted Notre Dame quarterback Joe Montana as an early round pick. Montana had enjoyed a storied college career, leading the Fighting Irish to the 1977 national title and a number of dramatic comeback victories, the most stunning of all being his final game, at the 1979 Cotton Bowl. Playing the University of Houston in an ice storm, and with a bad flu, they were down 34-13 in the third quarter. However, Montana led a magnificent rally that culminated with him throwing a touchdown pass on the game's final play to give Notre Dame the 35-34 win.

Despite this, most scouts did not peg Montana as a top prospect. In addition to being relatively small for a quarterback (just over six feet) and slow, Montana's arm strength was considered suspect. Though he did get credit for his moxie and intangibles, most thought of him as a system player surrounded by a great team.

In the 1979 draft, the Dallas Cowboys were placed just ahead of the 49ers. The Cowboys' draft strategy through that time was to take the highest-ranked player on their draft board at the time of their selection, regardless of position. When the Cowboys' turn came up in the third round, the highest rated player on their board was Montana. However, feeling that the quarterback position was in excellent long-term shape with Roger Staubach and Danny White, and desperately needing a tight end, the Cowboys went off their strategy and drafted Doug Cosbie. The 49ers, and Walsh, took Montana.

As Walsh implemented his strategies and game plan, the 49ers had another year of losing, going 2-14. There were, however, a number of bright spots. Despite throwing more interceptions than touchdowns, Steve DeBerg blossomed under Walsh, throwing for over 3600 yards and completing 60% of his passes. Freddie Solomon also had a good year, with over 800 yards receiving. The running game was patchwork, with Paul Hofer (leading the team with 615 yards) and O.J. Simpson, in what would be his final season, rushing for only 460 yards and being sidelined with injuries.

The 49ers got off to a strong start in 1980, winning their first three games of the season. However, the team, still not quite ready for the big time, would lose their next eight games in a row, although many of those games were close, and the 49ers acquitted themselves well.

During the 1980 season, Walsh alternated DeBerg and Montana at quarterback. Though DeBerg had played well for the 49ers, Walsh felt the team's best chance to win in the long run was with Montana. He alternated the two QBs, giving Montana some experience while keeping opponents off guard. This strategy of alternating quarterbacks from game to game and during games is rare in football, although it had been employed by other successful teams in the past, specifically the Dallas Cowboys of the early 1970's who alternated Roger Staubach and Craig Morton, and the Los Angeles Rams of the early 1950's alternating Norm Van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield.

The highlight of the 1980 season, and a sign of good things to come, came in Week 14. The 49ers trailed the New Orleans Saints, who at the time were winless at 0-13, 35-7 at halftime. However, led by Joe Montana, the 49ers made the greatest regular-season comeback ever, coming back to tie the score in regulation and winning the game in overtime with a field goal by Ray Wersching to give the 49ers a 38-35 victory. It was this game, which marked his first big NFL comeback win, that won Montana the quarterback job full time.

A number of key players emerged for the 49ers in 1980. Among them were Dwight Clark, who led the 49ers with 82 receptions and just under 1000 yards receiving, and running back Earl Cooper, who ran for over 700 yards.

With the offense in good shape, Walsh and the 49ers focused on overhauling the defense in 1981. Walsh took the highly unusual step of overhauling his entire secondary with rookies and untested players, bringing on board Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright and Carlton Williamson and giving Dwight Hicks a prominent role. He also acquired veteran linebacker Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds and veteran defensive lineman and sack specialist Fred Dean.

These new additions, when added to existing defensive mainstays like Keena Turner, turned the 49ers into a dominant team. After a 1-2 start, the 49ers won all but one of their final games to finish with a 13-3 record, easily the best record in the team's history. Additionally, the 49ers only allowed over 20 points in three games. Dean made the Pro Bowl, as did Lott, in his rookie season, and Hicks.

Led by Montana, the unusual offense was centered around the short passing game, which Walsh used as ball control. Both Dwight Clark and Freddie Solomon had excellent years receiving; Clark as the possession receiver, and Solomon as more of a deep threat. The 49ers running game, however, was among the weakest for any champion in NFL history. Ricky Patton led the 49ers with only 543 yards rushing. The 49ers most valuable running back, however, might have been Earl Cooper, whose strength was as a pass-catching back (he had 51 catches during the season.)

The 49ers faced the New York Giants in the divisional playoffs and won, 38-24, in a game that wasn't as close as the score suggests. This set up an NFC Championship Game matchup with Dallas, whom the 49ers could never get past during their earlier successful run in the early 1970s.

As they had earlier in the season (beating the Cowboys 45-14), the 49ers played the Cowboys tough, but turnovers allowed the Cowboys to stay close and even hold the lead late. Unlike the playoff games of the '70s, this would end differently. In a scenario not unlike the 1972 divisional playoff, the 49ers were down 27-21 and on their own 11 yard line with 4:54 remaining. As Montana had done for Notre Dame and the 49ers so many times before, he led the 49ers on a sustained drive to the Cowboys' 6 yard line. Expecting an all-out passing assault, the 49ers instead crossed up the Cowboys by turning to their ground game. On a 3rd-and-3 play, with his primary receiver covered, Montana rolled right and threw the ball off balance to Dwight Clark in the end zone, who leaped up and caught the ball by his fingertips, coming down just in bounds, to tie the game at 27, with the extra point giving the 49ers the lead.

"The Catch", as the play has since been named, reminded older 49er fans of the "Alley-oop" passes that Y.A. Tittle threw to lanky receiver R.C. Owens back in the 1950s. A picture of Clark's leap in the air appeared on the cover of that week's Sports Illustrated and was also recently featured in a Fall 2005 commercial for Gatorade.

Despite this, the Cowboys had one last chance to win. And indeed, on the first play of the next possession, Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson caught a pass from Danny White and got to midfield before he was pulled down at the 49ers 44 yard line by Cornerback Eric Wright. Had Pearson not have been tackled, there was a good chance he would have scored a touchdown, as there were no other 49ers in range. On the next play, White was sacked by Lawrence Pillers and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Jim Stuckey, giving the 49ers the win and a trip to their first ever Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals, who were also in their first Super Bowl.

The 49ers would take a 20-0 halftime lead and go on to win Super Bowl XVI 26-21 behind kicker Ray Wersching's four field goals and a key defensive stand. Throughout the '81 season, the defense had been a significant reason for the team's success, despite residing in the shadow of the then-innovative offense. Montana won MVP honors mostly on the strength of leading the 49ers on a 92 yard, 12 play drive culminating in a touchdown pass to Earl Cooper. Thus did the 49ers complete one of the most dramatic and complete turnarounds in NFL history, going from back-to-back 2-14 seasons to a Super Bowl championship in just two years.

Montana's success in the playoffs, and his success in leading the 49ers on big comebacks, made him one of the biggest stars in the NFL. Not only was he the face of the 49ers, but his easygoing and modest manner enabled his celebrity to transcend football. Additionally, it caused other teams to consider players who, although not physically gifted, nonetheless had certain intangibles and tendencies that made them great players who could come up big in the biggest spots.

During their first Super Bowl run, the team was known for its short-range passing game and the play-making ability of quarterback Joe Montana. Later, they became dominant in all aspects of the game, featuring a dominant defense (always in the offense's shadow) and a fast-scoring passing attack (with wide-receivers Jerry Rice and John Taylor).

The 1982 season was a bad one for the 49ers, as they lost all five games at Candlestick Park en route to a 3-6 record in a strike-shortened season. Joe Montana was the one highlight, passing for 2,613 yards in just nine games, highlighted by five straight games in which he broke the 300-yard barrier.

In 1983, the 49ers won their final three games of the season, finishing with a 10-6 record and winning their 2nd NFC Western Divisional Title in three years. Leading the rebound was Joe Montana with another stellar season, passing for 3,910 yards and connecting on 26 touchdowns. In the NFC Divisional Playoffs, they hosted the Detroit Lions. The 49ers would jump out in front early and led 17-9 entering the 4th quarter. The Lions would roar back scoring two touchdowns to take a 23-17 lead. However, Montana would lead a comeback, hitting wide receiver Freddie Solomon on a game-winning 14-yard touchdown pass with 2:00 left on the clock to put the 49ers ahead 24-23. The game ended when a potential game-winning FG attempt by Lions kicker Eddie Murray missed. The next week, the 49ers came back from a 21-0 deficit against the Washington Redskins in the NFC Championship Game to tie the game, only to lose 24-21 on a Mark Moseley field goal that sent the Redskins to Super Bowl XVIII.

In 1984, the 49ers had one of the greatest seasons in team history, going 15-1. In the playoffs, they beat the New York Giants 21-10, shut out the Chicago Bears 23-0 in the NFC Championship, and in Super Bowl XIX the 49ers shut down Dan Marino's passing game, beating the Miami Dolphins 38-16. Their entire defensive backfield (Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright, Dwight Hicks, and Carlton Williamson) was elected to the Pro Bowl -- an NFL first.

In the 1985 season, Roger Craig became the first NFL player to gain 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. The 49ers were not as dominate as in 1984, however, and they settled for a 10-6 record, a wild card berth and a quick elimination from the playoffs when the New York Giants beat them 17-3.

Before the start of the 1986 season, inspired by the Chicago Bears success with its song Super Bowl Shuffle, a few of the 49ers recorded a 45 pop single entitled "We're the 49ers." The song was released as a 45RPM single on Megatone Records. It mixed elements of R&B, funk, and pop. Vocals were provided by 49ers, including Roger Craig, Dwight Clark and Ronnie Lott (Joe Montana is noticeably absent). While achieving some local airplay in San Francisco on radio stations like KMEL, it did not catch on nationally like the Super Bowl Shuffle would a year later. When the 1986 season began, the 49ers were off and running with a 31-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on opening day. But the win was costly; Joe Montana severely injured his back, needed surgery and was out for two months. Jeff Kemp became the starting quarterback, and the 49ers went 4-3-1 in September and October. Upon Montana's return, the 49ers caught fire, winning 5 of the last 7 games, including a 24-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams, to clinch the NFC West Title. However, the New York Giants defeated them in the playoffs, 49-3. Montana was injured in the first half by a tackle from the Giants' Jim Burt.

During the strike-shortened '87 season, the 49ers led the league but fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Minnesota Vikings, 36-24 -- the third year in a row they lost in the first round. 1987 marked the first of six seasons when the 49ers had two Hall of Fame quarterbacks on the roster: from 1987 through 1992, Montana's backup (and frequent replacement) was Steve Young.

In 1988, the 49ers struggled. At one point, they were 6-5 and in danger of missing the playoffs but rose to defeat the Washington Redskins on a Monday Night, eventually finishing the season at 10-6. They gained a measure of revenge by thrashing the Minnesota Vikings 34-9 in the first round. The 49ers then traveled to Chicago's Soldier Field, where the chill factor at gametime was 26 degrees below zero. They defeated the Chicago Bears 28-3 in a NFC Championship game upset.

The win over the Bears gave the 49ers their third trip to the Super Bowl: Super Bowl XXIII, in Miami. However, the game was tied 3-3 at halftime, the 49ers having missed a few scoring opportunities. A late Cincinnati field goal seemed to seal the victory, but they left too much time for Joe Montana to work his magic. He drove the team 92 yards for the winning touchdown on a pass to John Taylor with only 34 seconds left.

George Seifert takes over

The following year, coach Bill Walsh retired, and his defensive coordinator and handpicked successor, George Seifert, took over head coaching duties. The 49ers then steamrolled through the league to finish 14-2 and gain homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Their two losses were by a combined 5 points. In the first round, they crushed the Vikings, 41-13. In the NFC Championship game, they blew out the Los Angeles Rams 30-3 before crushing the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV. Montana won his third Super Bowl MVP. In doing so, the become the only team to win back-to-back Super Bowls under different head coaches.

The 1990, the 49ers won their first ten games, and they eventually finished 14-2. They ripped through the season, and the coveted third consecutive Super Bowl victory seemed within reach. In the playoffs, the 49ers dispatched the Washington Redskins 28-10, setting up a conference championship game with the New York Giants. Despite not scoring a touchdown in the game, the Giants took advantage of 49ers turnovers and converted a faked punt attempt to thwart the 49ers attempt at a "three-peat." The Giants defeated them 15-13 and went on to win Super Bowl XXV.

During their quest for a "three-peat" between 1988 and 1990, the 49ers set a league record with 18 consecutive road victories. To this date, it never has been broken.

Joe Montana then missed the following two seasons with a recurring elbow injury. Following the 1990 season, the 49ers left team stalwarts Roger Craig and Ronnie Lott unprotected and let them go to the Los Angeles Raiders via Plan B free agency.

In 1991, Steve Young injured the thumb on his throwing hand and later was sidelined with an injured knee. After 10 games, the 49ers had a record of 4-6. Backup quarterback Steve Bono helped the team to win its final six games of the season, finishing 10-6. However, the team missed qualifying for the playoffs by virtue of losing tiebreakers to the Atlanta Falcons. The 1992 and 1993 seasons saw a resurgent 49er team under the leadership of Steve Young, but a sub par defense could only take them to the NFC Championship game before falling to the Dallas Cowboys each time. Additionally, the 49ers traded Joe Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs prior to the 1993 season.

In 1994, the team shored up its defense with the addition of several veteran free agents, including Ken Norton, Jr., Gary Plummer, Rickey Jackson, and Deion Sanders. Additionally, several rookie players made key contributions to the team, some becoming season-long starters such as defensive tackle Bryant Young, fullback William Floyd, and linebacker Lee Woodall. After some tough going early in the season, including a 40-8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the 49ers finished the season 13-3 and with homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. In their first game, they easily defeated the Chicago Bears, 44-15, setting up the third straight 49ers-Cowboys NFC Championship Game. The 49ers took advantage of three early Cowboys turnovers, taking a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. From that point on, the game was much more competitive, but the 49ers held on for a 38-28 victory, qualifying them for their fifth Super Bowl, XXIX, and the first to be played by two teams from California. The 49ers overpowered the San Diego Chargers, becoming the first team to win a record five Super Bowls. With a record 6 touchdown passes, Steve Young was named the game's MVP. Their run of 5 Super Bowl wins in 14 seasons (1981-1994) solidified them as one of the all time greatest NFL teams.

The 49ers made the playoffs in 1995, 1996, and 1997, being eliminated each season by the Green Bay Packers, including a 23-10 loss at Candlestick in the 1997-98 NFC Championship game.

In 1998, Steve Young led the 49ers to a 12-4 record and their 16th straight winning season, all with 10 wins or more. The 49ers faced the Green Bay Packers in a thrilling NFC Wild Card Game that went back and forth for its duration. Things looked bleak when the 49ers trailed 27-23 in the waning seconds. However, in one last moment of glory, Young hit Terrell Owens on a dramatic, game-winning 25-yard touchdown pass that put the Niners at 30-27 with 0:03 left on the game clock. This play is now commonly known as "The Catch II".

After retiring from coaching following their Super Bowl XXIII victory, Bill Walsh has often returned as a special consultant for player and coaching decisions, and as its occasional public frontman. Walsh even served as general manager in the late 1990s, guiding the transition from Steve Young to Jeff Garcia at quarterback.

The Doldrums: 1999 - 2010

In the late 1990s owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. was involved in a corruption investigation regarding then Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards and one of his Mississippi riverboat casinos. DeBartolo later pleaded guilty to a failure to report a felony charge in 1998. He was suspended from active control of the 49ers for one year. His sister, Denise DeBartolo York, and her husband, Dr. John York, took over operations of the team.

Eddie DeBartolo returned from his suspension in 1999, but a series of lawsuits over control of the family's vast holdings led him to surrender controlling interest of the team to the Yorks, as part of a 2000 settlement. Denise and John York are now co-chairmen of the board, while their son Jed York is CEO.

On the field, the 1999 version of the 49ers got off to a 3-1 start, then in a nationally televised Monday Night Football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Steve Young suffered a blindside hit that would eventually forced him to retire. They ultimately won that game, but without their future Hall of Famer, the 49ers lost 9 of their last 10 games, and suffered their first losing season since 1982.

In 2002 they produced the second-greatest comeback in NFL playoff history by coming back from a 24 point deficit (14-38) and winning 39-38 against the New York Giants. They lost their subsequent game to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This would be the last post-season appearance for the 49ers until 2011. Two days later, head coach Steve Mariucci -- whose published statements about his degree of power in the organization had frayed already-strained relations with management -- was fired by John York, despite a winning record. York has since said he made the correct decision to fire Mariucci, but could have handled it better; for instance, he admitted he should have made the announcement himself rather than hand that responsibility to general manager Terry Donahue. The replacement, former Seattle Seahawks and Oregon State University head coach Dennis Erickson was signed to a five-year contract. However, the Niners have never had a winning season since Mariucci's firing.

The period since the 2002 season has been disastrous for the 49ers: injuries, a weak offensive line, and an inconsistent defense. Although they finished the 2003 season with a losing record of 7-9, Erickson was retained as coach for the 2004 season.

On September 26, 2004, the Niners were shut out 34-0 by the Seattle Seahawks, their first such loss in 420 regular season and 36 playoff games, a league record. The last shutout had been 27 years prior in 1977 — they were defeated 7-0 by Atlanta at Candlestick Park. The 49ers had several chances to score in the fourth quarter, but an interception and a fumble recovery sealed their fate in this game.

During the 2004 season, rumors that the Yorks might sell the team began spreading. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young have been the names most commonly rumored as potential buyers. The 49ers would finish that season with a record of 2-14, and thus finished last in the NFC West division for the first time since 1979, ending what had been the NFL's longest active streak for not finishing last in a division. It was also the worst record that season among the 32 NFL teams, securing them the right to the first pick in the NFL Draft. Both Erickson and the man who hired him, General Manager Terry Donahue, were fired immediately after the season.

After an extensive coaching search, the 49ers announced the hiring of Mike Nolan -- defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens -- as their head coach for the 2005 season. He is the son of Dick Nolan, who led the Niners to three consecutive division titles in the early 1970's. Among many NFL franchises, the general manager makes strategic, player and coaching personnel decisions; the 49ers hired a head coach without hiring a GM, indicating that Nolan would likely exert substantial control in all of these areas. In his inaugural draft as head coach, Nolan selected with the first pick of the draft quarterback Alex Smith of the University of Utah. It was a pick predicted by some, though many felt the 49ers should select local product Aaron Rodgers of the University of California, Berkeley.

On May 31, 2005, it became public knowledge that a controversial video production, intended to be viewed by the players only, had been made the previous August under the supervision of the team's public relations director, Kirk Reynolds, who also appeared prominently in it. The video contained offensive characterizations of certain ethnic and other groups, including Chinese-Americans, lesbians, strippers and homeless persons. The revelation led to Reynolds being fired, and sparked harsh condemnation from local and national media. An anonymous source leaked the story by sending a copy of the video to the media. Though he has denied the allegation and it may be impossible to know for sure, many believe disgruntled former GM Terry Donahue was the anonymous source.

Tragedy struck the Niners on August 20, 2005, when rookie OL Thomas Herrion died immediately following a pre-season loss to the Denver Broncos. Coach Mike Nolan had just finished addressing the players in the locker room when Herrion collapsed. He was taken to a local Denver hospital, where he died several hours later. An autopsy revealed that Herrion died of a heart disease, which had not been previously diagnosed.

In 2005, the 49ers finished 4th in the NFC West for the second year in a row, but were able to double their win total from 2004, ending the season with a 4-12 record. They ended the season on a high note with two consecutive wins; their first two game winning streak since 2003. Also, they swept their arch-rival, the St. Louis Rams for the first time since 1998.


The 49ers finished the 2006 regular season with a 7-9 record and 3rd in the NFC West, their fourth consecutive losing season. The team displayed vast improvement, however. The most impressive victory of the season came in the last week vs. the Denver Broncos. The 49ers managed to come back from a 13-0 deficit and knock Denver out of the playoffs in a OT win (26-23). They also defeated their division rival, and defending NFC Champion, Seattle in both meetings of the season.

At the start of the 2006 season, the team made perhaps their most important decision, awarding the top running back spot to second year veteran Frank Gore from Miami. Gore ran for a franchise record of over 1,600 yards, which led the NFC, along with 8 TDs. He was awarded his first Pro Bowl appearance as a starter.


Before the beginning of the 2007 season, former coach Bill Walsh died of complications from leukemia. More than 10,000 people attended a memorial service for him, held at Candlestick Park.

At the beginning of the 2007 offseason, San Francisco extended Gore's contract to 4 years worth $28 million, and $14 million guaranteed.

The 49ers addressed their problems in the secondary with the signing of veteran cornerback Nate Clements from the Buffalo Bills. The contract was worth a league high for a defensive player $80 million for 8 years. They also signed strong safety Michael Lewis from Philadelphia. In the NFL Draft that year, the 49ers made another key addition to their defense, selecting middle linebacker Patrick Willis with the 11th overall pick. Willis was named the 2007 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The 49ers started that season 2–0, winning their first two games against the Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams. This marked the first time the 49ers started 2–0 since 1998. In the fourth game of the season, against the Seattle Seahawks, QB Alex Smith suffered a separated shoulder on the third play of the game, an injury that would severely hamper his play and ultimately lead to an early end to his 2008 campaign after having shoulder surgery. Chiefly due to QB Trent Dilfer's struggles and Alex Smith's injury, the 49ers lost 8 straight games from week 3 through week 12, ending the year with a disappointing 5–11 record.


In the 2008 offseason, the 49ers signed Quarterback Shaun Hill to what was to be a three-year deal. They added free agents Justin Smith, Isaac Bruce, and J.T. O'Sullivan. Questions were raised about the future of Alex Smith, whose first three seasons had been plagued by inconsistent play, injuries, and not having had an offensive coordinator remain on the team for consecutive years. Head coach Mike Nolan and new Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz stated that a competition between Smith, Hill, and O'Sullivan would run through the first two preseason games of 2008, with the hope of naming a starter soon after. O'Sullivan was named the 49ers starter because of his familiarity with the Martz offense and after performing better than Smith or Hill in the first three preseason games.

On the night of October 20, 2008, after struggling through the beginning of the season, head coach Mike Nolan was fired. Assistant head coach Mike Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker with the Chicago Bears, was named as the interim head coach. Singletary proved to be a fan favorite when after his first game as head coach he delivered a memorable post game interview. Singletary said of their loss: "... right now, we've got to figure out the formula. Our formula. Our formula is this: We go out, we hit people in the mouth.".[2]

The 49ers won their final game of the 2008 season, a 27-24 win at home over the Washington Redskins, to end their campaign with a final record of 7 wins and 9 losses.[3]Shaun Hill had won three of the final four games as an emergency quarterback. After the final game, Singletary was announced as permanent head coach by Jed York, who had been appointed as team president just days before. Jed York is the oldest son of John York and Denise DeBartolo York (and nephew of former team owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.). The team had won five of its final seven games and went 5–4 overall under Singletary after Nolan's dismissal.


On April 25, 2009, the 49ers selected Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree with the 10th pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. This was the only pick on the first day of the draft for the 49ers. After selecting Crabtree, they traded their 2nd round pick along with a 4th round pick to the Carolina Panthers. From this trade they received an additional first round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Other selections for the 49ers during the 2009 draft included Glen Coffee, Scott McKillop, Nate Davis, Bear Pascoe, Curtis Taylor, and Ricky Jean-Francois.

The 2009 training camp was the first time since 2005 that the 49ers failed to have all drafted rookies signed and in training camp on time.[4] The tenth pick of the first round, WR Michael Crabtree, reached a contract agreement with the team on October 7, 2009, after having missed the first four games of the regular season.[5]

After an up and down season, featuring many close games, the 49ers posted an 8-8 record, the team's first non-losing season since 2002. Despite missing the playoffs for the seventh straight season, several key players continued to show signs of improvement. Alex Smith regained his role as the 49ers' starting quarterback, passing for more than 2,000 yards with 18 touchdowns, while Frank Gore collected his fourth consecutive season with 1,000 or more rushing yards, a 49ers record. Safety Dashon Goldson showed signs of potential in his first year as full-time starter, as he tallied 94 tackles, 4 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 sacks. Vernon Davis, in particular, had a breakthrough year at tight end, earning Pro Bowl honors with 965 yards and 13 touchdowns (tying the NFL record for his position). 2010 saw 5 Pro-Bowl Players for the 49ers. Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Justin Smith, and Andy Lee.


Following the 2009 season, fan favorite quarterback Shaun Hill was traded to Detroit. Hill had a 10-6 record as a starter (the only 49er quarterback to have a winning record since the firing of Mariucci), and his success was seen as an embarrassment to the Niner front office. In the 2010 draft, the 49ers selected Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis, 11th overall, and Idaho offensive guard Mike Iupati, 17th overall, in the first round. The team also selected USC safety Taylor Mays with the 49th pick of the 2nd round. Other draft picks include LB Navorro Bowman, RB Anthony Dixon, TE Nate Byham, WR Kyle Williams, and DB Phillip Adams. On May 4, the team gave star LB Patrick Willis a five-year, $50 million contract extension through the 2016 season, with $29 million in guaranteed money.

The team was very optimistic entering 2010, with a healthy Alex Smith playing with a returning offensive coordinator for the first time ever. In fact, many picked the Niners to win the division quite easily. However, the Niners began the season with a 0-5 record, their worst start since 1979. On September 27, 2010, Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye was dismissed, and replaced by assistant Mike Johnson. Raye later joined UCLA as Offensive Coordinator.

The 49ers gained their first win of the 2010 season when they won at home against the Raiders in week 6. After that first win they lost again to the Carolina Panthers by 3 points. They then won three out of the next four games (against Denver Broncos 24-16, St. Louis Rams 23-20 in overtime, 21-0 loss to Tampa Bay Buccaneers, win at Arizona Cardinals 27-6, loss at the Green Bay Packers 34-16 and a divisional win over the Seattle Seahawks 40-21, loss at San Diego 34-7, loss at St. Louis Rams 25-17) and finished 6-10 with a 38-7 drubbing of Arizona. After being eliminated from the postseason with the loss to St. Louis on December 27, the Niners fired Singletary. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula was promoted to interim Head Coach for the last game of the regular season. Against the Arizona Cardinals, at home, Tomsula coached the team to a 38-7 victory in his only game as head coach.

The 2010 Forty Niners finished 3rd in the NFC West with a record of 6-10. They have not made the playoffs for the past eight seasons, leading back to 2002 when they were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

2011–present: The Harbaugh era

On January 4, 2011, Jed York promoted interim General Manager Trent Baalke to be the General Manager, Baalke took over the General Manager role after former GM Scot McCloughan was relieved of his duties the year before. Two days later on January 7, 2011, former head coach of Stanford University Jim Harbaugh was named the 49ers new head coach.[6] In the 2011 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected defensive end/linebacker Aldon Smith from the University of Missouri with the seventh pick of the first round.

After the end of an NFL labor dispute that nearly threatened to postpone or cancel the 2011 season the 49ers made a questionable decision to re-sign Alex Smith to a one-year $4.8 million contract.[7] Jim Harbaugh had spoken highly of him weeks after he was hired. Because of the decision to retain Smith and a shortened offseason with an entirely new coaching staff being hired, the team was expected to be among the league's worst by NFL prognosticators. Despite this, Harbaugh's first season was a major success and improvement. After 10 weeks, the team was able to overcome adversity as they got off to a 9–1 start that was highlighted by road wins against the Philadelphia Eagles, where the team came back from a 20-point deficit in the second half, and the Detroit Lions who were undefeated at the time. The 49ers defense became one of the most intimidating in the league and did not allow a 100-yard rusher or a single rushing touchdown until week 16 of the regular season, while other 49er players, such as Alex Smith, revived their careers. By week 13 the 49ers won the NFC West for the first time since 2002 after a victory against the St. Louis Rams, officially ending their nine-year playoff drought. The 49ers ended the regular season with a 13–3 record, earning the second overall seed in the NFC Playoffs. In the Divisional Playoffs the 49ers defeated the New Orleans Saints 36–32 after a touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Vernon Davis in the closing seconds of the game. The team reached the NFC Championship for the first time since 1997, and faced the New York Giants. They lost to the eventual Super Bowl champions with a 20–17 score in overtime after two critical fumbles by back up return man Kyle Williams, ending their 2011–2012 season.

During the off-season, the 49ers retained all eleven starters on their top ranked defense, resigned Alex Smith to a 3 year contract worth $24 million and retooled their struggling receiving core by signing Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, and drafting A. J. Jenkins with the 30th overall pick.

Logos and uniforms

The Niners' logo was a mustached 49er gold miner from the 1848 California Gold Rush, dressed in overalls and a red shirt, jumping in midair, and fired pistols in each hand: one nearly shooting his foot, the other pistol after having shot off his hat, now smokes and forms the words "Forty Niners" from the smoke. An alternate logo was designed in the 1960s featuring a shield-shaped crest formed from the number "49", with a football in the upper right quadrant and "SF" in the lower left quadrant. San Francisco's current primary logo, an intertwined white "SF" in the center of a red oval with a black border, debuted in 1962. Black outlining on the intertwined "SF" was added in 1989, and in 1996, a more stylized black border and gold trimming was added to the oval logo.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, the 49ers wore silver helmets, silver pants and either cardinal red or white jerseys. The team's colors then changed in 1964, and the club began to wear gold helmets and beige-gold pants, and either scarlet red or white jerseys. The design of the jersey was relatively simple: red home jerseys with white block numbers, three white parallel stripes on the sleeves, and smaller white block numbers above these stripes on the upper sleeve. The color scheme was reversed for the white road jersey. The 1964 uniform design was basically used for the next thirty seasons, with only the following minor changes: a switch from thin to thicker pant striping in 1976, and the switching from red socks with three white stripes to solid red socks in 1991. Also, in 1989, the 49ers' jerseys were slightly altered with the stripes on the sleeves being arranged closer together.

File:San Francisco 49ers Unused 1991.png

The 49ers' 1991 proposed helmet design

Also in 1991, the 49ers announced a prototype for a new logo and helmet design. Instead of the traditional "SF" oval, this new logo featured a stylized "49ers" in white with black and red shadows. However, fan reaction was so overwhelmingly negative that the idea was scrapped the next day.[8]

During the 1994 season, most NFL teams wore their throwback uniforms on occasional games (after week 3 of the season) to celebrate the NFL's 75th anniversary. The 49ers chose to wear their 1955 throwbacks with block-shadow numbers, white pants with thinner red-black-red striping, and the old striped red socks (later replaced back to solid red). As they embarked on a winning streak that ultimately culminated in a Super Bowl XXIX victory, the team petitioned the NFL to wear the uniform for the rest of the season, which they were allowed to do. However, the team reverted to the 1964 basic uniform design before the 1995 season.

In 1996, the 49ers celebrated their 50th anniversary by designing a commemorative jersey patch based on the earlier shield-crest logo. The team also debuted a new uniform design, changing the shade of red used in their jerseys from bright scarlet to a deeper, cardinal red. The new modifications were also influenced from the 1994 throwback uniform: more black and gold trim were added to the block numbers, the sides of the sleeves, and the hips of the pants and the smaller numerals were now placed on the top of the shoulder. The team's helmet also underwent a redesign in 1996, utilizing the new updated oval logo with gold trimming. A more metallic gold was also used for the helmet color, the striping was changed from red-white-red to black-cardinal-black, and the old gray-colored facemask was switched to a cardinal red-colored one. As in 1994 the Niners also donned white pants full-time for the 1996 and 1997 seasons, this time with black-cardinal red-black striping. However, the team later switched back to gold pants in 1998, only this time it was a shinier, more metallic gold than the previous butterscotch matte gold of the past. The 1996 helmet and jersey design with the 1998 gold pants remains the club's current uniform. Since 2002, the 49ers have used the 1980s style scarlet and beige-gold uniforms as alternate jerseys, wearing them on four different occasions: 2002 against Philadelphia, 2005 against Tampa Bay and 2006 against Minnesota and Arizona. For the 2006 season, the team's 60th anniversary, a corresponding patch was on the jersey and the team wore throwback jerseys for two home games.

Move out of San Francisco

On November 8, 2006, reports surfaced that the 49ers had ended negotiations with the city of San Francisco about building a new stadium, and were planning to move to Santa Clara, 30 miles south of San Francisco. The Yorks and San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom had been talking over the last few months about building a privately financed stadium at Candlestick Point that was going to be part of the city's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The 49ers' decision ended the Olympic bid. San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago were the three cities competing to be the U.S. Olympic Committee's choice to bid on the 2016 games, leaving only Los Angeles and Chicago as contenders.

The team's lease at Candlestick Park ran through the 2009 season, with five three-year options that could extend it through 2024. The stadium at Candlestick is one of the oldest in the league, leading to the team's desire to seek a new stadium with revenue-generating suites and luxury boxes. The plan was to build a stadium also including public housing, retail and office space. The city was not going to contribute any money to the stadium but was willing to possibly help with some of the infrastructure costs. According to the Mayor's office, John York assured San Francisco officials that he was only negotiating with the city, but the team had talked in recent weeks to Santa Clara officials about the move.

On the 49ers website, owner John York had a letter stating a move to Santa Clara. The team would retain its name according to this letter.[9]

York later confirmed in a press conference on November 9 that the team will move to Santa Clara with plans to build a state of the art facility without a stadium mall in time for the 2012 season.

On November 15, 2006, ESPN reported that U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) planned to sponsor a bill to prevent the 49ers from retaining any reference to San Francisco in their name, preventing gameday shuttles to Santa Clara and other provisions if the team were to move away from San Francisco.[10] However nothing ever came from that announcement, and the bill was never submitted. Due to the severe recession, and the NFL's monetary dispute and lockout, construction had been delayed, but groundbreaking was held in Santa Clara on April 19, 2012. The Niners opened their new home at Levi's Stadium in 2014, and have been awarded the right to host Super Bowl 50.

On June 5, 2012, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to allow the Niners to break their lease a year early, and move into their new home for the 2014 season. The deal will require the Niners to make the normal lease payment of $5.295 million to San Francisco for the 2014 season.[11]

Season-by-season records

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties

Season W L T Finish Playoff Results
San Francisco 49ers (AAFC)
1946 9 5 0 2nd AAFC West --
1947 8 4 2 2nd AAFC West --
1948 12 2 0 2nd AAFC West --
1949 9 3 0 2nd AAFC Won AAFC Playoff (Yankees) 14-7
Lost AAFC Championship (Browns) 21-7
Merged into NFL
1950 3 9 0 T-5th NFL NFC --
1951 7 4 1 T-2nd NFL NFC --
1952 7 5 0 3rd NFL NFC --
1953 9 3 0 2nd NFL West --
1954 7 4 1 3rd NFL West --
1955 4 8 0 5th NFL West --
1956 5 6 1 3rd NFL West --
1957 8 4 0 2nd NFL West Lost Western Conference Playoff (Lions) 31-27
1958 6 6 0 4th NFL West --
1959 7 5 0 T-3rd NFL West --
1960 7 5 0 T-2nd NFL West --
1961 7 6 1 5th NFL West --
1962 6 8 0 4th NFL West --
1963 2 12 0 7th NFL West --
1964 4 10 0 7th NFL West --
1965 7 6 1 4th NFL West --
1966 6 6 2 4th NFL West --
1967 7 7 0 3rd NFL Coastal --
1968 7 6 1 3rd NFL Coastal --
1969 4 8 2 4th NFL Coastal --
1970 10 3 1 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Vikings) 17-14
Lost Conference Championship (Cowboys) 17-10
1971 9 5 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Redskins) 24-20
Lost Conference Championship (Cowboys) 14-3
1972 8 5 1 1st NFC West Lost Divisional Playoffs (Cowboys) 30-28
1973 5 9 0 3rd NFC West --
1974 6 8 0 2nd NFC West --
1975 5 9 0 2nd NFC West --
1976 8 6 0 2nd NFC West --
1977 5 9 0 3rd NFC West --
1978 2 14 0 4th NFC West --
1979 2 14 0 4th NFC West --
1980 6 10 0 3rd NFC West --
1981 13 3 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Giants) 38-24
Won Conference Championship (Cowboys) 28-27
Won Super Bowl XVI (Bengals) 26-21
1982 3 6 0 11th NFC Conf.+ --
1983 10 6 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Lions) 24-23
Lost Conference Championship (Redskins) 24-21
1984 15 1 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Giants) 21-10
Won Conference Championship (Bears) 23-0
Won Super Bowl XIX (Dolphins) 38-16
1985 10 6 0 2nd NFC West Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Giants) 17-3
1986 10 5 1 1st NFC West Lost Divisional Playoffs (Giants) 49-3
1987 13 2 0 1st NFC West Lost Divisional Playoffs (Vikings) 36-24
1988 10 6 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Vikings) 34-9
Won Conference Championship (Bears) 28-3
Won Super Bowl XXIII (Bengals) 20-16
1989 14 2 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Vikings) 41-13
Won Conference Championship (Rams) 30-3
Won Super Bowl XXIV (Broncos) 55-10
1990 14 2 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Redskins) 28-10
Lost Conference Championship (Giants) 15-13
1991 10 6 0 3rd NFC West --
1992 14 2 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Redskins) 20-13
Lost Conference Championship (Cowboys) 30-20
1993 10 6 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Giants) 44-3
Lost Conference Championship (Cowboys) 38-21
1994 13 3 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Bears) 44-15
Won Conference Championship (Cowboys) 38-28
Won Super Bowl XXIX (Chargers) 49-26
1995 11 5 0 1st NFC West Lost Divisional Playoffs (Packers) 27-17
1996 12 4 0 2nd NFC West Won Wild Card Playoffs (Eagles) 14-0
Lost Divisional Playoffs (Packers) 35-14
1997 13 3 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Vikings) 38-22
Lost Conference Championship (Packers) 23-10
1998 12 4 0 2nd NFC West Won Wild Card Playoffs (Packers) 30-27
Lost Divisional Playoffs (Falcons) 20-18
1999 4 12 0 4th NFC West --
2000 6 10 0 4th NFC West --
2001 12 4 0 2nd NFC West Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Packers) 25-15
2002 10 6 0 1st NFC West Won Wild Card Playoffs (Giants) 39-38
Lost Divisional Playoffs (Buccaneers) 31-6
2003 7 9 0 3rd NFC West --
2004 2 14 0 4th NFC West --
2005 4 12 0 4th NFC West --
2006 7 9 0 3rd NFC West --
2007 5 11 0 3rd NFC West --
2008 7 9 0 2nd NFC West --
2009 8 8 0 2nd NFC West --
2010 6 10 0 3rd NFC West --
2011 13 3 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Saints) 36-32
Lost Conference Championship (Giants) 20-17 (OT)
2012 11 4 1 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Packers) 45-31
Won NFC Championship (Falcons) 28-24
Lost Super Bowl XLVII (Ravens) 31-34
2013 12 4 0 2nd NFC West Won Wild Card Playoffs (Packers) 23-20
Won Divisional Playoffs (Panthers) 23-10
Lost NFC Championship (Seahawks) 23-17
2014 8 8 0 3rd NFC West --
2015 5 11 0 4th NFC West --
2016 2 14 0 4th NFC West --
2017 6 10 0 4th NFC West --
2018 4 12 0 3rd NFC West --
2019 13 3 0 1st NFC West Won Divisional Playoffs (Vikings) 27-10
Won NFC Championship (Packers) 37-20
Lost Super Bowl LIV (Chiefs) 20-31
2020 6 10 0 4th NFC West --
Totals 552 485 16 (1946-2020, AAFC & NFL regular season)
32 21 -- (1946-2020, AAFC & NFL playoffs)
622 521 16 (all games, 1946-2020, including AAFC & NFL playoffs)

* = Current Standing

+ = Due to a strike-shortened season in 1982, all teams were ranked by conference instead of division.



San Francisco 49ers current roster

Running Backs

  • 22 Matt Breida
  • 46 Malcolm Johnson FB
  • 44 Kyle Juszczyk FB
  • 28 Jerick McKinnon
  • 33 Jeremy McNichols
  • 31 Raheem Mostert
  • 32 Joe Williams
  • 41 Jeff Wilson

Wide Receivers

  • 17 Victor Bolden Jr.
  • 84 Kendrick Bourne
  • 13 Aaron Burbridge
  • 7 Steven Dunbar (R)
  • 15 Pierre Garçon
  • 11 Marquise Goodwin
  • 82 Richie James (R)
  • 1 Max McCaffrey
  • 18 Dante Pettis R
  • 19 Aldrick Robinson
  • 81 Trent Taylor
Tight Ends
  • 88 Garrett Celek
  • 49 Ross Dwelley (R)
  • 83 Cole Hikutini
  • 85 George Kittle
  • 89 Cole Wick

Offensive Linemen

  • 64 Jonathan Cooper G
  • 65 Joshua Garnett G
  • 76 Garry Gilliam T
  • 63 Alan Knott C (R)
  • 61 Andrew Lauderdale T
  • 62 Erik Magnuson G
  • 69 Mike McGlinchey T (R)
  • 67 Jamar McGloster T (R)
  • 71 Pace Murphy T
  • 68 Mike Person G
  • 58 Weston Richburg C
  • 77 Coleman Shelton C (R)
  • 74 Joe Staley T
  • 75 Laken Tomlinson G
  • 66 Najee Toran G (R)
  • 78 Darrell Williams Jr. T
Defensive Linemen
  • 92 Jeremiah Attaochu DE
  • 91 Arik Armstead DE
  • 98 Ronald Blair DE
  • 99 DeForest Buckner DT
  • 96 Sheldon Day DT
  • 57 Eli Harold DE
  • 93 D. J. Jones DT
  • 54 Cassius Marsh DE
  • 90 Earl Mitchell DT
  • 67 Niles Scott DT (R)
  • 95 Kentavius Street DE (R)
  • 55 Pita Taumoepenu DE
  • 77 Jullian Taylor DT _(R)
  • 94 Solomon Thomas DE
  • 66 Blaine Woodson DE


  • 50 Brock Coyle OLB
  • 56 Reuben Foster MLB
  • 47 Elijah Lee MLB / DB
  • 53 Mark Nzeocha OLB
  • 51 Malcolm Smith OLB
  • 59 Korey Toomer MLB
  • 48 Fred Warner OLB
  • 97 Dekoda Watson OLB
Defensive Backs
  • 27 Adrian Colbert FS
  • 38 Antone Exum FS
  • 46 Corey Griffin CB (R)
  • 14 C. J. Goodwin CB
  • 49 Marcell Harris SS (R)
  • 43 Chanceller James SS
  • 36 Don Jones FS
  • 26 Greg Mabin CB
  • 33 Tarvarus McFadden CB (R)
  • 45 Tarvarius Moore FS (R)
  • 41 Emmanuel Moseley CB
  • 30 Tyvis Powell SS
  • 40 D. J. Reed CB (R)
  • 25 Richard Sherman CB
  • 29 Jaquiski Tartt SS
  • 20 Jimmie Ward FS
  • 24 K'Waun Williams CB
  • 6 Terrell Williams FS (R)
  • 23 Ahkello Witherspoon CB

Special Teams

  • 9 Robbie Gould K
  • 2 Jeff Locke P
  • 86 Kyle Nelson LS
  • 5 Bradley Pinion P
Reserve Lists
  • Currenty vacant

Practice Squad

  • Currently vacant

Rookies in italics
Depth ChartTransactions

53 Active, 5 Inactive, 8 Practice Squad

More rosters

Player codes

  • Active/PUP - Active / Physically Unable to Perform
  • PUP - Reserve / Physically Unable to Perform
  • IR - Injured Reserve
  • IR/DFR - Injured Reserve / Slated for Return
  • R - Rookie (player name in italics)
  • FA - Free Agent (Restriced)
  • UFA - Unrestriced free agent
  • NF-Inj. - Reserve-Non-Football Related Injury
  • NF-Ill. - Reserve-Non-Football Related Illness
  • PS-IR - Practice Squad/Injured Reserve
  • S- Suspended
  • SI - Suspended infdefinitely
  • Did Not Report - Reserve/Did not report
  • Exempt/Left Squad - Exempt/Left squad
  • Left Squad - Reserve/Left squad
  • Susp. or Suspended- Reserve/Suspended
  • Military - Reserve/Military
  • Future - Reserve/Future
  • Exempt - Roster exemption

Pro Football Hall of Fame members

Bold denotes inducted as a Forty Niner

Retired numbers

* For the 2006-07 season, newly acquired quarterback Trent Dilfer wore #12, effectively unretiring QB John Brodie's number. A longtime friend of Brodie, Dilfer wore the #12 as a tribute to the former 49er great.

Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame

49ers Head Coaches


# Number of coaches
GC Games coached
W Wins
L Losses
T Ties
Win% Winning percentage
* Spent entire NFL head coaching career with the 49ers
* Served as an interim head coach
* Served as an interim head coach and spent
entire NFL head coaching career with the 49ers

Head Coaches

Note: Statistics are correct through the end of the 2013 NFL season.

# Name Term Regular season Playoffs Reference
GC W L T Win% GC W L
1 Buck Shaw 1946–1954 114 71 39 4 .640 2 1 1 [12]
2 Red Strader 1955 12 4 8 0 .333 [13]
3 Frank Albert 1956-1958 36 19 16 1 .542 1 0 1 [14]
4 Red Hickey 1959-1963 55 27 27 1 .500 [15]
5 Jack Christiansen 1963-1967 67 26 38 3 .411 [16]
6 Dick Nolan 1968-1975 112 54 53 5 .504 5 2 3 [17]
7 Monte Clark 1976 14 8 6 0 .571 [18]
8 Ken Meyer 1977 14 5 9 0 .357 [19]
9 Pete McCulley 1978 9 1 8 0 .111 [20]
10 Fred O'Connor 1978 7 1 6 0 .143 [21]
11 Bill Walsh 1979-1988 152 92 59 1 .609 14 10 4 [22]
12 George Seifert 1989-1996 129 98 30 1 .766 15 10 5 [23]
13 Steve Mariucci 1997-2002 96 57 39 0 .594 7 3 4 [24]
14 Dennis Erickson 2003-2004 32 9 23 0 .281 [25]
15 Mike Nolan 2005-2008 55 18 37 0 .327 [26]
16 Mike Singletary 2008-2010 40 18 22 0 .450 [27]
17 Jim Tomsula 2010, 2015 17 6 11 0 .353 [28]
18 Jim Harbaugh 2011-2014 64 44 19 1 .695 8 5 3 [29]
19 Chip Kelly 2016 16 2 14 0 .125
20 Kyle Shanahan 2017-present 48 29 35 0 .479 3 2 1

Current organization

San Francisco 49ers staff
Front Office
  • Co-Chairmen – Denise DeBartolo York and John York
  • CEO – Jed York
  • General Manager – John Lynch
  • Assistant General Manager - Adam Peters
  • Executive Vice President of Football Operations – Paraag Marathe
  • President – Al Guido
  • General Counsel – Hannah Gordon
  • Vice President/Senior Advisor to General Manager – Keena Turner
  • Director of Pro Personnel – Ran Carthon
  • Director of College Scouting - Ethan Waugh
  • Director of Football Administration & Analytics – Brian Hampton

Head Coaches

Offensive Coaches

  • Offensive Coordinator – Mike McDaniel
  • Quarterbacks – Rich Scangarello
  • Running Backs – Bobby Turner
  • Wide Receivers - Wes Welker
  • Offensive Line – Chirs Foerster
  • Assistant Offensive Line – Butch Barry
  • Assistant Offensive Line – Zach Yesner
  • Offensive passing game specialist - Bobby Slowik
  • Offensive Quality Control – Brian Fluery
  • Offensive Quality Control – Leonard Hankerson

Defensive Coaches

  • Defensive Coordinator – DeMeco Ryans
  • Defensive Line – Kris Kocurek
  • Assistant Defensive Line – Darryl Tapp
  • Linebackers – Johnny Holland
  • Defensive Pass Game Specialist/secondary – Cody Undlin
  • Safeties - Daniel Bullocks
  • Senior Defensive Assistant/Run Game Specialist – Daniel Bullocks
  • Defensive Quality Control – Andrew Hayes-Stoker
  • Defensive Quality Control – Klay Kubiak

Special Teams Coaches

  • Special Teams Coordinator – Richard Hightower
  • Assistant Special Teams – Matthew Harper
  • Special Teams Quality Control – August Mangin

Strength and Conditioning

  • Head Strength and Conditioning – Dustin Perry
  • Assistant Strength and Conditioning – Aaron Hill and Mike Nicolini
  • Director, performance monitoring/assistant strength and conditioning – Shea Thompson

Radio and television

The 49ers' flagship radio stations are KNBR 680AM, KSAN 107.7FM ("The Bone"), and KTCT 1050AM. KSAN airs all 49ers games on FM. On AM, they are simulcast on KTCT while the baseball San Francisco Giants are active, and on KNBR from the end of the Giants' season to the end of the Niners' season. Ted Robinson and Eric Davis form the broadcast team. All three stations are owned by Cumulus Media.

Preseason games are telecast on KPIX, channel 5, with announcers Dennis O'Donnell and Keena Turner.


  1. San Francisco Forty Niners Ltd.. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  2. Hit-People-in-the-Mouth. Retrieved on 2008-10-27.
  3. "Singletary's hard work rewarded", San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2011-07-05. 
  4. Matt Maiocco. Myth: Rookie contract issues are new to NFL. Press Democrat. Retrieved on 2009-08-02.
  5. John Crumpacker. "49ers sign Crabtree", San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2009-10-07. 
  6. ESPN (2011-01-07). Sources: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers agree to 5-year deal. ESPN. Retrieved on 2011-01-07.
  7. Killion, Ann. "New era begins for 49ers, but will San Francisco get any better?",, August 1, 2011. Archived from the original on August 4, 2011. 
  8. Haberek, Ben (2003-05-18). Helmets, Helmets, Helmets. Retrieved on 2006-11-12.
  9. York, John. Letter to 49ers Faithful. Retrieved on 2006-11-12.
  10. Epstein, Edward (2006-11-14). Feinstein says she'll fight 49ers over 'SF' identity. Retrieved on 2006-12-05.
  11. Sabatini, Joshua (2006-06-05). Supervisors allow Niners to break Candlestick lease. Retrieved on 2012-06-23.
  12. Buck Shaw Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC.. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
  13. Red Strader Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
  14. Frank Albert Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
  15. Red Hickey Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
  16. Jack Christiansen Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
  17. Dick Nolan Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
  18. Monte Clark Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  19. Ken Meyer Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  20. Pete McCulley Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  21. Fred O'Connor Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  22. Bill Walsh Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  23. George Seifert Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  24. Steve Mariucci Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  25. Dennis Erickson Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  26. Mike Nolan Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  27. Mike Singletary Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  28. Jim Tomsula Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  29. Jim Harbaugh Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on 2012-01-23.

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