The 49ers are making their seventh Super Bowl appearance in Miami this week at Super Bowl 54, and this team has a chance to join the legendary teams led by Joe Montana and Steve Young in championship lore. Kyle Shanahan can join all-time great 49ers coaches Bill Walsh and George Seifert at the top of the football world.
The significance of a 49ers victory would be felt on multiple levels across the NFL.
SUPER BOWL 54 PREDICTIONS:
Straight up | Against the spread | SN staff picks
Welcome to the six Super Bowl-win club
That is an exclusive club. Pittsburgh and New England are the only other NFL franchises with six Super Bowl victories. The Patriots and Steelers also each have won multiple Super Bowls since 2000.
Why would this matter for San Francisco? The franchise would have the best record among the teams with six Super Bowl victories at 6-1 with a victory over the Chiefs. Pittsburgh (6-2) and New England (6-5) have a lower winning percentage.
|XVI||San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 16||Joe Montana|
|XIX||San Francisco 38, Miami 16||Joe Montana|
|XXIII||San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16||Jerry Rice|
|XXIV||San Francisco 55, Denver 10||Joe Montana|
|XXIX||San Francisco 49, San Diego 26||Steve Young|
|XLVII||Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31||Joe Flacco|
49ers would set the new NFC standard
San Francisco also would distance itself from the other traditional NFC powerhouses with a victory. Dallas (5-3) is the other NFC franchise with five Super Bowl victories. Green Bay (4-1) and the N.Y. Giants (4-1) are next up with four each.
San Francisco would have the best Super Bowl record among teams with at least four Super Bowl victories. That’s impressive considering the ups and downs the franchise has had in between.
Jimmy Garoppolo would join legendary QBs
Montana won four Super Bowls with the 49ers and did so in dominant fashion. Montana had a 127.8 passer rating in four appearances with 11 TDs and no interceptions. He also led the game-winning TD drive against Cincinnati in Super Bowl XXIII.
Young, meanwhile, passed for 325 yards and six TDs in Super Bowl XXIX against the Chargers. That is the lofty standard for 49ers QBs — Montana and Young hold three of the top-10 spots in SN’s Super Bowl MVP rankings.
That is the club Garoppolo can join in his first full season as San Francisco’s starter. Garoppolo has passed for 208 yards, one TD and one interception in two playoff games. He will be asked to do more against the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes.
MORE: The best Super Bowl-winning teams, ranked 1-53
Like father, like son
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan can join Mike Shanahan as the first father-son duo to win the Super Bowl. Mike Shanahan led the Broncos to victories in Super Bowl XXXI and Super Bowl XXXII.
There is more to it than that. Mike Shanahan also was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers when they won Super Bowl XXIX after the 1994 season.
Kyle Shanahan, 40, can win the Super Bowl in just his third season as a head coach. Shanahan has a 23-25 record, but he led the 49ers to a 13-3 regular-season record in 2019 before impressive victories against the Vikings and Packers in the NFC playoffs.
It’s a similar trajectory to Bill Walsh, who had a 21-27 record with the 49ers after three seasons but led a 13-3 season in Year 3 that ended with a victory against the Bengals in Super Bowl XVI.
Shanahan would not the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, who won Super Bowl XLIII at 36 years old, still holds that record.
A quarter-century drought is over
There is a reason why the 49ers’ throwback uniforms from 1994 were creating buzz. It has been 25 years since San Francisco has won the Super Bowl.
The 49ers had the 12th best record in the NFL this decade at 87-82-1. That came despite the success with Jim Harbaugh. A victory would erase the sting of the 34-31 loss to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII, too. The 49ers have had four straight losing seasons before 2019, and it’s been an impressive rebuild under general manager John Lynch, who was hired in 2017.
Lynch’s rebuild has included trading for Garoppolo and drafting Nick Bosa, who has helped take the defense to a Super Bowl-caliber level. Now, the 49ers have a chance to win the ultimate prize for the sixth time.
This team will be in the mix for years to come, too.