The venue for this year’s Super Bowl may offer good vibes for the San Francisco 49ers. One of the storied franchises in the NFL, the 49ers won their last Super Bowl 25 years ago in Miami, defeating the San Diego Chargers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX for their fifth NFL championship.
This year, the 49ers bounced back from a dismal 4-12 record in 2018 to go 13-3 and win the NFC West title and the No. 1 seed for the NFC playoffs. They defeated the Minnesota Vikings 27-10 in the divisional playoffs and then topped the Green Bay Packers 37-20 in the NFC Championship Game to punch their ticket to South Florida.
If the 49ers win Sunday’s game, they will earn their sixth Super Bowl title in seven appearances, tying them with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots for the most wins in the NFL’s signature game.
Here are 10 things to know about the 49ers franchise, past and present:
BEGINNINGS: The 49ers began as a member of the All-American Football Conference in 1946, a post-World War II league rival of the NFL. The 49ers, founded by Tony Morabito, and went 9-5, 8-4-2, 12-2 and 10-4, losing to the Cleveland Browns in the 1949 championship game. When the AAFC folded after the 1949 season, the 49ers were absorbed into the NFL, along with the Browns and the Baltimore Colts.
THE CATCH: “It’s a madhouse here at Candlestick,” CBS announcer Vin Scully said of Joe Montana’s winning touchdown pass to Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone in the 1981 NFC Championship Game. With 58 seconds left in the game on Jan. 10, 1982 and the 49ers facing third-and-3 from the Dallas Cowboys’ 6-yard line, Montana scrambled to his right and threw a high pass toward Clark, who made a leaping grab in the end zone to give the 49ers a 28-27 victory. Scully would be making his final call in a football game, while Jack Buck made the call for CBS Radio. The call many fans will remember, though, was from Don Klein, who called the play locally for KCBS:
FAMOUS PLAYERS: The 49ers have retired 12 numbers: Steve Young (8), John Brodie (12), Joe Montana (16), Joe Perry (34), Jimmy Johnson (37), Hugh McElhenny (39), Ronnie Lott (42), Charlie Krueger (70), Leo Nomellini (73), Bob St. Clair (79), Jerry Rice (80) and Dwight Clark (87). Fred Dean, team owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Charles Haley, Jimmy Johnson, John Henry Johnson, Lott, McElhenny, Montana, Nomellini, Terrell Owens, Perry, Rice, St. Clair, Y.A. Tittle, head coach Bill Walsh, Dave Wilcox and Young are all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
JOE COOL: Montana won four Super Bowl titles with the 49ers and cemented his legacy in Super Bowl XXII. The Cincinnati Bengals were leading 16-13 with 3:10 to play, and the 49ers were backed up at their own 8-yard line. “We’ve got 'em now,” a Bengals player told Cris Collinsworth. The Bengals receiver retorted, “Have you taken a look at who’s quarterbacking the 49ers?” Collinsworth was right. Montana engineered an 11-play, 92-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left, giving the 49ers their third Super Bowl title. Montana would win his fourth Super Bowl ring the following year, as the Niners beat the Denver Broncos 55-10.
The game was a rematch of Super Bowl XVI, when the 49ers earned their first title at the Pontiac Superdome with a 26-21 victory.
YOUNG’S BIG DAY: After waiting patiently on the sidelines behind Montana, Steve Young made the most of his chance in Super Bowl XXIX. Young completed 24 of 36 passes for 325 yards and threw six touchdown passes in the 49ers’ 49-26 blowout of the San Diego Chargers. Walsh was named the game’s MVP, becoming one of only six players to win both NFL and Super Bowl MVP honors in the same season.
THE GENIUS: Bill Walsh coached the 49ers to their first three Super Bowl titles with his innovative West Coast offense. He only coached 10 years, but Walsh guided the 49ers to a 92-59-1 regular-season record and went 14-10 in the postseason. Walsh’s won six division championships and three Super Bowls, and his 1984 squad went 15-1 in the regular season en route to a Super Bowl XIX victory against the Miami Dolphins. While Walsh was a cerebral coach, he knew how to keep his players loose. Most famously, he dressed up as a bellhop outside the team’s hotel on the eve of Super Bowl XVI. Walsh paid the bellhop $20 and began handling the players’ luggage. Montana, barely looking up, told the silver-haired bellhop to get lost, but Walsh was finally recognized by defensive tackle Lawrence Pillars.
NO MERCY: 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan most likely won’t take his foot off the gas San Francisco jumps out to a big lead Sunday. Not only because of the Chiefs’ quick-strike offense, but also because Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in 2017, when Atlanta blew a 28-3 lead midway in the third quarter to the New England Patriots and lost in the game’s first overtime contest.
COACHING PEDIGREE: Shanahan will be making his Super Bowl debut as a head coach, following in the footsteps of his father, Mike Shanahan. The elder Shanahan took the Denver Broncos to victories in Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII. The Shanahans are the first father-son duo to lead a team to the Super Bowl as a head coach. Mike Shanahan also has ties to the 49ers -- he was the team’s offensive coordinator when it won Super Bowl XXIX after the 1994 season.
JIMMY G: Quarterback Jimmy Garopollo already owns two Super Bowl rings, but that was as a backup to Tom Brady with the New England Patriots. Sunday, Garopollo gets the chance to earn a ring on the field of play. He certainly put up the numbers during the 2019 season, throwing for 3,978 yards and 26 touchdowns.
SOCIALLY AWARE: The best social media handle among Super Bowl LIV probably belong to 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk: @JuiceCheck44. Juszczyk starred collegiately at Harvard.
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