10 Greatest San Francisco 49ers Teams of All Time

The 49ers have fielded many great teams in their 70-plus-year history

The San Francisco 49ers were founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-American Football Conference, which merged with the NFL in '49. San Francisco did not win its first championship until 1982, but since then has become one of the league’s premier franchises.

 

In addition to its five Super Bowl wins, the 49ers also hold the record for most consecutive road wins with 18 and most points in a Super Bowl with its 55-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV. According to Forbes, San Francisco is the sixth-most valuable franchise, and is valued at $3.05 billion.

 

The 49ers have fielded many top teams over the years, and the names Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and Ronnie Lott are etched in football lore. Its 10 best all hold the distinction of at least making it to the NFC Championship Game.

 

10. 2013

Finished: Lost to Seattle Seahawks 23-17 in the NFC Championship Game

Regular Season Record: 12-4

Even though the 49ers entered the playoff as the fifth seed, they were the second-best team in the NFC. The only team that was better was NFC West rival and division champ Seattle. The two teams split their two regular-season meetings, but the Seahawks won the rubber match in the conference championship.

 

9. 2011

Finished: Lost to New York Giants 20-17 in the NFC Championship Game

Regular Season Record: 13-3

The 49ers clinched the NFC West in the 12th game of the season thanks in part to a nasty defense that held opponents to an average of two touchdowns a game. Only an overtime field goal by a New York Giants team playing its best football of the season prevented this team from going to the Super Bowl.

 

8. 1992

Finished: Lost to Dallas Cowboys 30-20 in the NFC Championship Game

Regular Season Record: 14-2

San Francisco sported the No. 1 offense in the league and earned the top seed in the playoffs. However, the 49ers suffered four turnovers and lost to Dallas in the NFC Championship Game, renewing one of the fiercest rivalries in the NFL history.

 

7. 1990

Finished: Lost to New York Giants 15-13 in NFC Championship Game

Regular Season Record: 14-2

This 1990 squad came the closest to three-peating as world champions in the Super Bowl era, going 14-2 and losing to the New York Giants in the final seconds of the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park. If Joe Montana had not gone down with an injury and Roger Craig had not fumbled in the final minutes, they may have actually pulled it off.

 

6. 2012

Finished: Lost to Baltimore Ravens 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII

Regular Season Record: 11-4-1

The 49ers narrowly beat out the Seattle Seahawks for the NFC West title thanks to a 24-24 tie with the St. Louis Rams. In the NFC Championship Game, San Francisco overcame a 17-0 deficit on the road to beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24. The 49ers then found themselves down 28-6 to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl and battled back, but came up short, losing 34-31.

 

5. 1988

Finished: Beat Cincinnati Bengals 20-16 in Super Bowl XXIII

Regular Season Record: 10-6

San Francisco was 6-5 going into a "Monday Night Football" matchup with Washington, but blew the Redskins out and won four of its last five games. By the playoffs, the 49ers were playing their best football. They easily made their third Super Bowl and then won it, thanks to one of the most memorable late-game drives of all time.

 

4. 1981

Finished: Beat Cincinnati Bengals 26-21 in Super Bowl XVI

Regular Season Record: 13-3

The 49ers went from 6-10 the year before to Super Bowl champs thanks to a revolutionary offense, a newly fortified defense, "The Catch," and the greatest goal-line stand in Super Bowl history.

 

3. 1994

Finished: Beat San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX

Regular Season Record: 13-3

In the offseason, San Francisco signed a number of veteran free agents, including Rickey Jackson, Ken Norton Jr., and Deion Sanders. It took five games for this team to gel, but once it did, the 49ers dominated the league and won their then-unprecedented fifth Lombardi Trophy.

 

2. 1989

Finished: Beat Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV

Regular Season Record: 14-2

The 49ers' West Coast Offense was at its apex with Joe Montana setting a then-record with his 112.4 passer rating. San Francisco lost its only two regular-season games by a total of five points and then blew out its playoff competition by a combined score of 126-26 to win their second straight Super Bowl.

 

1. 1984

Finished: Beat Miami Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX

Regular Season Record: 15-1

San Francisco’s only blemish was a 20-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won the AFC Central and played for the conference title. In addition to becoming the first team to ever go 15-1 in the regular season, these 49ers dominated their playoff opponents, including Dan Marino and a Miami Dolphins team that had scored more than 500 points that season. In my opinion, this is the greatest team in NFL history.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

Include in Acu Data Feed: 
Exclude from Acu-data Feed

More Stories: