Winning With Class and Innovation: San Francisco Is Titletown

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Winning With Class and Innovation: San Francisco Is Titletown
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

There's no denying that the San Francisco 49ers have a storied past. Although times have been rough for most of this decade, true fans still have plenty to relish about.

Recently, the term "Titletown" has been thrown around for cities or areas that are known for championships. Although San Francisco as a city has not won much in other sports, the 49ers' five Super Bowl titles in a span of 14 years is still an accomplishment that few NFL teams can brag about. They did it with the class of a high powered executive and the innovative genius of a complex mind.

Each championship 49er team had the combination of explosive offense and punch you in the mouth defense that wins championships. The 49ers developed so many extraordinary players during this period of time, almost too many to name.

Starting off with the quarterbacks, what team can attest to having two Hall of Fame quarterbacks back to back? Joe Montana and Steve Young alone make San Francisco "Titletown." Three Super Bowl MVPs for Montana, a record six touchdown passes and a Super Bowl MVP for Young is simply an astonishing feat.

What team can say they had the best wide receiver in NFL history in his prime? Jerry Rice owns all the records and although Randy Moss may have taken some of his statistical thunder when he scored 23 touchdowns in a season, Rice is still in a class of his own. Rounding out the 49er receivers, John Taylor caught the game winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXIII and of course Dwight Clark was the instrumental figure in "The Catch" during the 1982 NFC Championship against "America's Team," the Dallas Cowboys.

Pass catchers Russ Francis and Brent Jones proved that the tight end can be a versatile position. Once stereotyped as a blocking position, the tight end emerged as another threat to be utilized in Bill Walsh's offense.

From Roger Craig and Ricky Watters, to fullbacks Tom Rathman and William Floyd, the 49ers have had complete players in the backfield that could both run and catch well, adding even more weapons to an already potent offense. Craig was the first running back in NFL history to run and catch for 1,000 yards in a season while Watters provided much excitement during their 1994 title run.

Zone blocking? The 49ers made it popular, not the Denver Broncos. The 49er offensive lineman was known for his athletic ability and each year the 49ers won a Super Bowl, the offensive line proved their worth with excellent protection for Montana and Young. Stalwarts Jesse Sapolu, Randy Cross, and many more behemoths have paved the way for the offense.

Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott was the fearsome leader of the defense. Lott anchored the 49ers secondary for many years and thanks to his inspired play, the 49er defense simply beat the other team to the punch. The secondary has also seen some great players in Deion Sanders, Merton Hanks, Eric Wright, and others to name a few.

Although highly unheralded, the 49er linebacking corps was stout during their run. There was Dan Bunz with "The Stop" in Super Bowl XVI when he stoned Cincinnati Bengal Charles Alexander at the goal line. Talented linebackers Keena Turner, Ken Norton, Gary Plummer, and Lee Woodall have also guarded the line of scrimmage. Remember good old "Hacksaw" Jack Reynolds?


The man had a brilliant football mind and helped in the development of a young 49er defense in the early 1980's. He wasn't blessed with the greatest athletic ability, but he was able to read the opposing team expertly. What about Bill Romanowski? The man was on a lot of Super Bowl teams and he got his start with the 49ers.

Fred Dean terrorized quarterbacks and is another Hall of Famer the 49ers can boast about. The Niner defensive line has seen the likes of Bryant Young, Dana Stubblefield, Michael Carter, and Charles Haley attack offenses relentlessly. Haley also lined up at the "elephant" position, a George Seifert specialty.Without the excellent pass rush, the 49ers' secondary wouldn't have been so successful during the Super Bowl seasons.

Although special teams was never the 49ers' strength, Ray Wersching was solid for two Super Bowls. Mike Cofer and Doug Brien were serviceable and did their duty.

Bill Walsh's coaching tree is simply legendary. Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Holmgren was Montana's offensive coordinator and two time Super Bowl champion Mike Shanahan was Young's offensive coordinator. Former defensive coordinator George Seifert won many games as head coach, including victories in Super Bowl XXIV and Super Bowl XXIX.

The quality of players and coaches that the 49ers had throughout the years contribute to why San Francisco is "Titletown." From Montana to Walsh, San Francisco can call many Hall of Famers as their own.

For a team to win five Super Bowls in such a short period of time is an accomplishment that will be hard to equal. Although the Super Bowl record for wins has since been tied by the Dallas Cowboys and now exceeded by the Pittsburgh Steelers, those teams did not win their championships in a span of 14 years.

San Francisco is truly "Titletown" and the 49ers are the sole reason.

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