It is one of the most storied franchises in NFL history. The San Francisco 49ers run from 1981-94 put them as the most dominant team in the league, an amazing record of durability, innovation and clutch execution.
During that time, there came five Super Bowl titles and three more appearances in the NFC Championship game. Every year during that span they were considered a lock to make the playoffs and go deep in the postseason.
Such a storied run, however, makes people forget that this is the oldest major professional sports team in California, whose levels of success stretch back to the 1940s.
Long before Dwight Clark climbed to the sky, and much longer before Steve Young pulled a monkey off his back, the 49ers came to represent a team much like San Francisco—innovative, offensive-oriented but with good defensive players, and somewhat quirky, really.
In light of the team’s success at the start of the 2011 season, it’s a good time to look back on the top 25 most influential 49ers in franchise history.