Yet another traditional rival that I’ve been forced to rank above my beloved Cowboys, the 49ers have some of the classiest uniforms in the NFL.
The Niners became one of the NFL’s best teams during the 1980s when quarterback Joe Montana began etching out his legacy as one of the greatest players and leaders of all-time. I still remember getting my young hands on a copy of the 1990 Super Bowl between Montana’s 49ers and John Elway’s Denver Broncos. I was only 7, and I didn’t know who won. I don’t even remember how I acquired it. I just remember watching in awe as the 49ers routed the Broncos, which I wasn’t too happy about.
The 49ers sported the cherry red tops, pale gold pants with absolutely huge stripes down the sides, and the elegant golden helmet with San Francisco’s “SF” logo emblazoned across the sides (see below).
In the 1990s, San Francisco continued under the leadership of Jerry Rice and new QB Steve Young, but made what I consider to be several mistakes: they changed the traditional golden pants to white, added black shadows behind the numbers, and even added black to the pant stripes (keeping in line with the 90s and early 2000s trend of making absolutely everything black — I blame Steve Austin). The white pants were actually part of the team’s original look dating back to 1946, but changed to “beige gold” in 1964, remaining that way until the “throwback” season of 1994, which I refer to as the “throw-up” season.
The 49ers made the sensible decision to switch back to gold in 1995, but then reverted to a more modern white-pants look in 1996. It wasn’t any better.
Thankfully, rationale got the best of the 49ers organizational heads once more in 1998. They brought back the gold pants, but the look wasn’t complete until they brought back the wide red and white stripes in 2009.
Lesson (hopefully) learned: leave it alone.
The logo? Not a lot to mention — it does its job, and we all recognize it now.