Simply stated, the San Francisco 49ers have been one of the most successful franchises in the history of the NFL. Their 5 championships trail only the 6 won by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots. That said, it’s been some time since they won their last, which came in January of 1995 when they defeated the San Diego Chargers 49-26.
They've twice appeared in the Super Bowl since but suffered heartbreaking losses both times. The Baltimore Ravens defeated the 49ers 34-31 in 2013, and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied to beat San Francisco just last season 31-20. The 49ers enter the 2020 season with hopes of avoiding the traditional Super Bowl loser hangover.
San Francisco is widely considered the “team of the 80’s”, as they took home the title 4 times during that decade. The legendary Bill Walsh and his 'west coast offense' was the engineer of this run, and he established the team's championship pedigree with an upset 26-21 win over the Bengals to complete the 1981 season. They also lifted the trophy in 1984, 1988, and 1989 seasons.
Walsh retired after the 1988 season, handing George Seifert the reigns. Seifert’s team cruised to the title in his first year, and then again following the 1994 season. Joe Montana was the QB for the first 4 rings while Steve Young guided the squad 5th. Both are now in the Hall of Fame.
Montana to Young handoff wasn’t the easiest for the franchise to navigate. Montana was still playing at a high level when Young was acquired in 1987 by Walsh from the Tampa Bay Bucs in exchange for 2nd and 4th round draft picks. Young had a long wait behind Montana before getting his shot. Once he established his ability, the 49ers traded Montana to the Chiefs in 1993, setting the stage for the Young Super Bowl win in the 1994 season.
Other iconic players from their Super Bowl-winning era include wide receiver Jerry Rice, widely considered the greatest ever at his position. He holds the all-time NFL record in numerous categories including total touchdowns (208), receptions (1,549), and receiving yards (22,895). Safety Ronnie Lott and pass rushers Fred Dean and Charles Haley were defensive standouts.
In the modern era, it was in a 49ers jersey that Colin Kaepernick staged his controversial yet peaceful protest against police brutality in America by kneeling during the national anthem. It was during a preseason game in San Diego in 2016 that Kaepernick was first seen sitting on the bench during the anthem. After a discussion with former Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer, Kaepernick adjusted the demonstration to kneeling on the turf, rather than sitting. Following Kaepernick’s departure from the 49ers, he has never been offered another job in the NFL, but his message started a movement among other players who have carried the protests forward. In 2020, Roger Goodell issued an apology and said he wished “we had listened earlier” to what Kaepernick was saying.
The 2020 49ers are led by successful Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch. The two started on the job together before the 2017 season. They acquired Jimmy Garoppolo on Halloween in 2017. He tore his ACL early in the 2018 season but led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his first full season as a starter in 2019.
Other standouts for the current 49ers are pass rusher Nick Bosa, the 2019 defensive rookie of the year, and tight end George Kittle, who holds the single-season record for tight end receiving yards with 1,377. The 49ers should also rely on their strong offensive line and a balanced rushing attack led by Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman again this season.
According to DraftKings, the 49ers are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl in January 2021. Their odds sit at +1000. Only the Chiefs and Ravens have a lower number. The 49ers are the favorite to win the NFC, with a number of +475. Their win total number stands at 10.5, although the oddsmakers like the under at -125. You can wager the over at +102, which may be a nice bet.