From 1981 to 1998, the 49ers finished with a winning record in 17 consecutive seasons, qualified for 16 postseasons and won five Super Bowls. They were the game's elite, and one of the greatest dynasties in sports history.
Then, akin to the collapse of the Roman Empire, the seemingly impenetrable dynasty suddenly and completely collapsed. The 49ers underwent a multitude of coaching changes and experiments, including the firing and hiring of three head coaches in a decade. A black cloud was cast over a once-proud franchise, and fans in Northern California found solace only in the lore of the Bill Walsh past.
In 2011 the skies cleared and another former Stanford coach took the helm in San Francisco.
Coincidence or not, the Cardinal-49er connection has once again galvanized an underachieving group, and the Red & Gold find themselves one win away from a Super Bowl that almost no one could have predicted.
From Bill Walsh to Jim Harbaugh, let's take a look at the seven the 49ers head coaches in the Bill Walsh era, from best to worst.