Quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young were ultimate cornerstones on which the 49ers built five Super Bowl champions. But even with the sublime consistency those teams exhibited during their Super Bowl-winning seasons, each of those championship teams had something that set them apart.
1981: A rookie-laden secondary made 27 interceptions (Dwight Hicks, nine; Ronnie Lott seven). Wide receivers Dwight Clark and Freddie Solomon had their greatest seasons. A rush-by-committee approach exploited coach Bill Walsh's West Coast offensive innovations.
1984: A rock-hard defense had the great secondary and a line with young studs (nose tackle Michael Carter, end Dwaine Board) and great veterans (Gary "Big Hands" Johnson, Fred Dean). Featured back Wendell Tyler and second-year, star-to-be Roger Craig gained plenty on the ground.
1988: Jerry Rice dominated, averaging 20.4 yards per catch long before talk of him being the greatest player ever, but not before he showed he was the greatest playing at that time. By then a free safety, Lott was the best.
1989: The team was strong defensively, and its offensive balance was astounding, but it was mostly about Montana (career-best 112.4 passer rating), Rice (1,483 yards, 17 TDs) and John Taylor (1,077, 10 TDs).
1994: Young and Rice had established themselves as the ultimate passer-receiver combination. Rookie tackle Bryant Young was a nearly unblockable defensive force. Balance in all facets made the team's supreme greatness almost bland.
This season? Opportunities to write a sixth Super Bowl championship chapter abound. Check back in 11 days.
Which 49ers Super Bowl champion was the best?
XVI (26-21 over Bengals)
XIX (38-16 over Dolphins)
XXIII (20-16 over Bengals)
XXIV (55-10 over Broncos)
XXIX (49-26 over Chargers)
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How much confidence do you have in 49ers kicker David Akers?
Behind him 100%: 16%
Keep fingers crossed: 56%
Total votes: 589