With their commanding win over the Green Bay Packers last night, the San Francisco 49ers took another step in the direction that they appeared to have been headed since the beginning of the season: the direction that leads to a championship.
They are now set to compete against the Kansas City Chiefs for the Lombardi Trophy in two weeks in Super Bowl LIV. Kansas City has been there a couple of times before, but not in 50 years. They did win Super Bowl IV.
As for the 49ers, this will mark their seventh trip to the Super Bowl as a franchise. They are one of four teams to have won it at least five times. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots have won six, and it was rough on Steelers fans to watch the Patriots join them recently.
Now they may have to make room for San Francisco as well. Both the Patriots and 49ers failed on their first attempt to win their sixth Lombardi Trophy, though. The 49ers were in the Super Bowl in 2012, but lost to the Baltimore Ravens and John Harbaugh. Their head coach at the time was his brother, Jim Harbaugh.
Now it’s Kyle Shanahan, who is the sixth head coach in team history to take San Francisco to at least the conference finals, which in a sense is impressive, but also speaks to a certain level of turnover at the position. This does also go all the way back to the 40s, before they were in the NFL.
Back in the 1970s, the Steelers came to completely dominate the football landscape. From 1974 through 1979, they won the Super Bowl four times, becoming the first team to win three, and then four titles in the Super Bowl era. They were the first to win the title back-to-back multiple times, as well. They remain the only team with four Super Bowls in a six-year span.
It’s been about 25 years since the 49ers won their last title, however, back in the mid-2000s. They became the first, in fact, to win five, with the Dallas Cowboys following them shortly after. The Steelers did not get their ‘one for the thumb’ until 2005, and then cemented their status on the top of the list three years later with number six.
As mentioned, the Patriots, who only had three at the time, would soon join them. They have won three of the past five Super Bowls, playing in four of them, and were in at least the conference finals for eight consecutive seasons before being knocked out in the wildcard round this year.
I know there are certainly some Steelers fans who guard the team’s championship exclusivity, and so some will certainly be rooting against the 49ers to win so that yet another team won’t be able to stand at the top alongside them. The Chiefs will, on the other hand, be looking to win just their second Lombardi.