San Francisco 49ers Team History
San Francisco 49ers were charter members of the All-America
Football Conference, which began play in 1946. Had it not been
for the Browns, who won four championships and lost only four
games in the league's four years of operation, the 49ers would
have been the AAFC's dominant team. Their cumulative record
was an excellent 39-15-2. They handed the Browns two of their
four defeats but finished second each year. Even in attendance,
the 49ers were second best in the AAFC next to Cleveland.
When the 49ers moved to the NFL in 1950 following the collapse
of the AAFC, their original management team -- co-owners Anthony
J. Morabito and Victor P. Morabito and general manager Louis
Spadia -- remained intact. The 49ers in the 1950s boasted of
some of the game's great individual stars: quarterbacks Frankie
Albert and Y. A. Tittle, running backs Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry
and John Henry Johnson, tackle Bob St. Clair and defensive tackle
Leo Nomellini. But the closest they came to a championship in
their first two decades of NFL play was in 1957, when they tied
Detroit for the NFL Western division crown but lost in a playoff.
San Francisco flirted with success in 1970, 1971 and 1972, when
the 49ers won three straight NFC Western division titles. Every
year, they were eliminated by the Dallas Cowboys, in the NFC
championship games 1970 and 1971 and in the first playoff round
in 1972. In 1971, the 49ers moved their home games from antiquated
Kezar Stadium to 68,491-seat Candlestick Park.
A bright new era dawned for the 49ers on March 31, 1977, when
Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. became the new team owner. He dedicated
himself to transforming a team that never won a league championship
into a pro football power. In 1979, DeBartolo selected Bill
Walsh, renowned as an offensive specialist, as the 49ers head
coach. It took Walsh just three seasons to bring San Francisco
its first-ever league championship with a 26-21 win over Cincinnati
in Super Bowl XVI.
San Francisco also won the NFC West in 1983 and did even better
in 1984 with 18 wins in 19 games and a 38-16 Super Bowl XIX
victory over the Miami Dolphins. Walsh concluded his pro coaching
career after a last-second 20-16 victory over Cincinnati in
Super Bowl XXIII. In 10 years, Walsh compiled a 102-62-1 record
and won six NFC West titles and three Super Bowls.
The 49ers of the 1980s were loaded with a group of young superstars
including quarterback Joe Montana, receivers Dwight Clark and
Jerry Rice, running back Roger Craig and defensive back Ronnie
Lott. George Seifert, who replaced Walsh, continued to take
full advantage of the existing talent. Careful personnel planning
paid off as capable new players were on hand when veteran stars
retired. A perfect example is the quarterback position where
Steve Young was on hand to replace Montana, who battled a series
of injuries before leaving the 49ers.
Seifert's record as the 49ers head man was awesome, with two
Super Bowl wins -- a 55-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super
Bowl XXIV and a 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in
Super Bowl XXIX.