San Francisco 49ers’ biggest legends in team history
The San Francisco 49ers are in a great position moving forward, and it begins in the front office. General manager John Lynch hired Kyle Shanahan to be the head coach and has given him a great team to work with.
This has been the theme of 49ers history. They have five Super Bowl titles that are tied for second all-time. This could not have been done without having legendary players on the field and coaches on the sideline.
When thinking about the biggest legends in 49ers’ history, these are the five names that come to mind immediately.
5. George Seifert
Seifert took over as head coach of the Niners in 1989. He inherited a dynasty team with an all-world quarterback and did not waste any time before getting his first Super Bowl.
In 1989, Seifert led the Niners to a 14-2 record. Joe Montana was named MVP of the league and the Super Bowl after a 55-10 blowout of the Denver Broncos. In 1994, Seifert coached another MVP quarterback in Steve Young. He won his second Super Bowl in blowout fashion 49-26 over the San Diego Chargers.
Seifert patrolled the sidelines in San Francisco for eight years. He led the team to six NFC West titles, five NFC Championship Game appearances, and two Super Bowl championships. Seifert won double-digit games in all eight seasons and finished 14-2 three times. He is one of the top coaches of all time and one of the top two in team history.
4. Steve Young
In 1984, the NFL held a supplemental draft for seniors who have already signed with the USFL and CFL. Young was taken first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Young started 19 games over two seasons for the Bucs. He finished 3-16 in those games and was traded to San Francisco in 1987.
Young was brought in to back up Montana. He started 10 games in 1991 and was named the full-time starter in 1992. Young would go onto lead the league in passing touchdowns for the next three years. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time First-Team All-Pro selection.
Young was named NFL MVP twice. The first came in 1992 when he threw 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Two years later, Young led the NFL with 35 touchdown passes. He added a Super Bowl MVP trophy to go with two league MVP awards.
The 49ers had Young waiting to replace Montana. The pressure of taking over the starting spot of an all-time great did not get to him. Young will go down as one of the top quarterbacks in franchise history.
3. Bill Walsh
Prior to Seifert taking over, San Francisco had the great Bill Walsh on the sideline for 10 years. He built a resume as one of the five best head coaches in NFL history with the 49ers.
Walsh began with the team in 1979 and won just eight games in the first two seasons. Starting in 1981, Walsh led the Niners to the playoffs seven times over the next eight years. San Francisco would also win six NFC West titles. In 1981, the Niners won their first Super Bowl under Walsh. Walsh would win titles again in 1984 and his final season in 1988.
The 49ers had some great moments under Walsh. He was on the sidelines during The Catch in 1981 against the Dallas Cowboys. He also helped orchestrate the legendary Super Bowl drive by Montana in 1988. Walsh finished 102-63-1 in the regular season with San Francisco. He went 10-4 in the postseason and was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1981 and 1984.
When you think of great coaches in NFL history, Walsh comes to mind quickly. He handpicked Seifert to take over as head coach when he was done on the sidelines. He was selected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1993.
2. Jerry Rice
Rice is hands down the best receiver in NFL history. The Mississippi Valley State product was selected with the 16th overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft.
As a rookie, Rice finished with 927 receiving yards. Over the next 11 years, Rice would go over 1,000 yards receiving and caught double-digit touchdowns 10 times. He led the NFL in receptions twice, receiving yards six times, and receiving touchdowns six times. Rice was named to 13 Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro 12 times.
Rice was a huge part of the Niners’ Super Bowl teams of the late ’80s and ’90s. When he retired, Rice set NFL records that will be difficult to beat. He is the all-time leader in receiving yards with 22,895. Larry Fitzgerald is second on the list with 17,083. He is the leader in receiving touchdowns with 197, which is 41 more than Randy Moss, who is second. Rice finished his career with 1,549 receptions, which is also the most all-time.
When it comes to wide receivers in history, Rice is the gold standard. He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2010 and is one of the top stars in 49ers’ history.
1. Joe Montana
It is only right that the biggest legend in franchise history is one of the best players of all-time at the most important position on the field. The 49ers made one of the best draft picks ever when they landed the Notre Dame quarterback with the 82nd overall pick in the 1979 NFL Draft.
Montana went just 2-6 in starts over his first two years in the league. In 1981, Montana got his first of eight Pro Bowl selections. He was named Super Bowl MVP in the very same season. Montana would quickly build a reputation as a clutch player who was better when the lights were brightest. He led what is known as “The Drive” in Super Bowl XXIII against the Cincinnati Bengals. With 3:10 left, Montana took the Niners on a 10-play, 92-yard touchdown drive to take the lead.
San Francisco never lost a Super Bowl with Montana under center. He finished 4-0 in the biggest game of the year. Montana was named Super Bowl MVP three times and NFL MVP twice. In 1989 and 1990, the Niners went 14-2. Montana would throw 56 touchdowns over those two years on his way to back-to-back MVP selections.
Montana was named to the Hall of Fame in 2000. He is far and beyond the biggest name in 49ers’ history and one of the biggest legends overall in NFL history.