The San Francisco 49ers is a professional football team that plays in the National Football Conference (NFC) West Division. The team was a founding member of the All America Football Conference (AAFC). It joined the NFL in 1950 when the leagues merged and was one of the most successful football teams of the 1980s.

 

The San Francisco 49ers were named after gold prospectors who flocked to California during the Gold Rush in 1849. The team is currently the oldest professional sports team in California. Despite its long history, it wasn’t until the late 1970s that the history of the franchise became noteworthy. In 1978, team owner Edward DeBartolo hired former Stanford University coach Bill Walsh as head coach. Walsh would select Notre Dame quarterback Joe Montana in the third round of the 1979 draft. While Montana enjoyed success at Notre Dame, he was considered a marginal NFL prospect. Many considered him too small and his arm strength too weak. Over the next three years, Walsh strengthened the team’s offense and defense. By 1981, the 49ers achieved a record of 13-3 and defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the famous 1981 NFC Championship 27-21, when Joe Montana found wide receiver Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone in what came to be known as “the Catch” with 51 seconds left in the game resulting in the team’s first Super Bowl Appearance. In Super Bowl XVI, The San Francisco 49ers would defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21 for the team’s first championship. In 1984, the 49ers would achieve a 15-1 record, and would defeat the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX, 38-16.

 

In 1985, the team added another cog to its NFL dynasty when it drafted Jerry Rice, a wide receiver from Mississippi Valley State in the second round of the NFL draft. Rice would become a 13-time NFL Pro-Bowler, and would set the NFL record for career receptions, touchdowns and receiving yards. In 1989, the 49ers would win their third Super Bowl under the command of Joe Montana with a 20-16 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Jerry Rice was named Super Bowl MVP. The victory would be the last NFL game coached by Bill Walsh. He would be replaced by George Seifert. In Seifert’s first year, the 49ers would win their fourth Super Bowl of the decade, defeating the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV, the most lopsided Super Bowl in history. Quarterback Joe Montana was named the 1989 NFL MVP, and won his third Super Bowl MVP. The 49ers would become the only team to win two consecutive Super Bowls under different coaches. In 1994, the 49ers would win their fifth Super Bowl, defeating the San Diego Chargers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX. Steve Young, who replaced Joe Montana as quarterback after the 1992 season, was named MVP after throwing six touchdown passes.

 

Since the glory years of the 1980s and early 1990s, the San Francisco 49ers have struggled. In 2011, however, the team hired former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh as head coach. Harbaugh, star quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and a stingy defense led by Patrick Willis, led the team to its sixth Super Bowl appearance in 2013, falling to the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Jim Harbaugh’s brother, John Harbaugh, 34-31, in Super Bowl XLVII.