Although Sacramento is about 90 miles from San Francisco, we’ve adopted many of their professional sports teams as our own, and there’s none more popular than the San Francisco 49ers. Here are 25 fun facts about the franchise of Montana and Young, Rice and Owens that have brought home so many Super Bowl rings:
1. The San Francisco 49ers first were granted a franchise in 1944 as a charter member of the now-defunct All-American Football Conference (AAFC). They first took the field for their inaugural season in 1946, and merged with the NFL in 1950, along with the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Colts.
2. We all recognize the 49er’s team colors of red and gold, but the first 49ers logo in 1946 actually depicted a mid-1800s gold miner dressed in plaid pants with pistols in each hand. But he was wearing a cardinal red shirt, and added gold pants for the 1948 season.
3. The red and gold switched to red, gold and silver from 1953-55, when the team uniform included silver pants with a single red stripe. The team went to all red and gold as of the 1964 season.
4. 49ers Super Bowl Championships:
XVI (Beat Bengals 26-21)
XIX (Beat Dolphins 38-16)
XXIII (Beat Bengals 20-16)
XXIV (Beat Broncos 55-10)
XXIX (Beat Chargers 49-26)
5. The 49er’s first three Super Bowls were won under Bill Walsh’s regime. When Walsh retired after winning the championship in 1988, his replacement, George Siefert, led the team to back to back Super Bowl wins in his first year in 1989, and then another in 1994.
6. All-time NFL record (not including AAFC):
7. The 49ers have retired 12 players’ numbers over their history. They are:
#8 Steve Young
#12 John Brodie
#16 Joe Montana
#34 Joe Perry
#37 Jimmy Johnson
#39 Hugh McElhenny
#42 Ronnie Lott,
#70 Charlie Krueger
#73 Leo Nomellini
#79 Bob St. Clair
#80 Jerry Rice
#87 Dwight Clark
8. The first draft choice in 49ers team history was tackle Leo Nomellini out of Minnesota in 1950.
9. When it comes to 49ers all-time team records, it’s no surprise that Joe Montana and Jerry Rice dominate the leader board. Montana holds the team record for most career passing yards (35,124), while Rice holds the records for most career receptions (1,281) and all-time leading scorer (1,130). Frank Gore, who played for the team from 2005 to 2014, is the all-time leading rusher with 11,073 yards.
10. While the 49ers now play in the NFC West, they were part of the Coastal Division from 1950-1970 along with the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams.
11. More than 50 ex-players are enshrined in the “Forty-Niners 10-Year Club,” which was started by coach Bill Walsh and dedicated to those who play for the 49ers for 10 seasons or more.
12. The official mascot for the 49ers is called “Sourdough Sam,” definitely representing the city of San Francisco.
13. The official cheerleading team for the 49ers is called the “Gold Rush,” and has been in existence since 1983, with 30-40 dancers each year.
14. The team started playing at venerable Kezar Stadium in San Francisco before moving to windy Candlestick Park in 1970. They played at Candlestick until 2014, when a grand state-of-the-art stadium facility was opened in Santa Clara. The 68,490-seat venue is called Levi’s Stadium after the brand Levi Strauss & Co won the naming rights for $220.3 million over the next twenty years, with a $75 million option for five years after that.
15. The stadium wasn’t without controversy, as US Senator Dianne Feinstein and other community leaders threatened block the team from using “San Francisco” or even “49ers” in their name since they were now in Santa Clara.
Of course the move went through, but the 49ers remain the only franchise that is further away from the city in their team name (San Francisco, 30 miles away) than a closer city with a larger population (San Jose, only 5 miles away with 998, 537 residents, or 150,000 more than San Francisco.)
16. The most famous play in 49ers history is definitely “The Catch”, when Joe Montana threw a completed pass to Dwight Clark into the end zone during the NFC Championship Game on January 10, 1982. The touchdown won the game for the 49ers 28-27, and they went on to win Super Bowl XVI 26-21 over the Cincinnati Bengals. Therefore, The Catch signified the end of the Cowboy’s 1970s dynasty and the rise of the 49ers run of championship play.
17. Joe Montana is considered one of the best players in San Francisco 49ers history. He was drafted in the third round of the 1979 draft but his career in the NFL almost didn’t get started, as he was offered full scholarships to play college basketball by North Carolina and North Carolina State out of high school.
18. During his storied career in red and gold, Montana was an eight-time Pro Bowler, a four-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Super Bowl MVP and two-time NFL MVP. He finished his career as a 49er with a 117-47-0 record and 273 touchdown passes.
He did go on to play several seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs at the end of his career, but the 49ers retired Montana’s number 16 after he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
19. While Montana is iconic in San Francisco, Jerry Rice is the best player the franchise history, and often considered the best wide receiver in the history of the NFL. In his 15 seasons with the 49ers from 1985 to 2000, Rice win three Super Bowls, played in 12 Pro Bowls, and pulled in 1,549 receptions for 22,895 receiving yards and 207 touchdowns.
20. Other lionized 49ers include Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Ronnie Lott, receiver Terrell Owens, and quarterback Steve Young, who took over for Joe Montana under center.
21. Steve Young actually started his pro football career paying for the Los Angeles Express of the defunct UFL, and then two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He came to the 49ers in 1987 and played until 1999, becoming a seven-time Pro Bowler, three-time Super Bowl Champion and Super Bowl MVP.
22. In fact, the master and the pupil – Montana and Young – actually played against each other only one time. In 1994, Young and the 49ers took on Montana and his Kansas City Chiefs, with Montana coming out on top by a score of 24-17.
23. The 49ers hold the distinction as the first team in NFL history every to win 15 regular seas games, when they went 15-1 in 1984.
24. There are 16 games in the NFL regular season, but in 1995, a 49er player named Dexter Carter actually played 17 games. Carter started the first 10 games of the season with the Jets before being signed midseason to play with the 49ers. Since his new San Francisco team already had their bye week when he joined them, he played 7 more games with the 49ers – for a total of 17.
25. The 49ers have a heated locational rivalry with the other Bay Area team, the Oakland Raiders. In fact, the 49ers and Raiders have only played each other 13 times, with the Silver and Black taking 7 victories to 6 for the 49ers. They last played in 2014 when Oakland won 24-13.
The rivalry between those two teams is so vicious that they aren’t even put on the same preseason schedule anymore. After a preseason game in 2011 broke out in rampant violence with fights in the restrooms and stands and a shooting outside the stadium, the NFL canceled all future pre-season games between them.
Are you a fan of the Oakland Raiders, not the 49ers? Don’t worry – we’ll write a blog post for you, too, very soon!