49ers finally get chance to add to glory years
By Simon Evans
ATLANTA (Reuters) - The team of the 1980s are back, at last.
The San Francisco 49ers, one of the great franchises of the National Football League, will finally return to the Super Bowl in search of a record-equaling sixth Lombardi Trophy when they face the Baltimore Ravens on February 3 in New Orleans.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have the most Super Bowl wins, with six triumphs in eight appearances, and the Dallas Cowboys have five wins from eight, but the Niners are the only team to have appeared in multiple Super Bowls and won each of them.
The Green Bay Packers were the first dominant team in the Super Bowl era, in the late 1960s, the Steelers the stars of the 1970s but the 49ers were the team to beat during the 1980s.
Next month's Super Bowl marks the return to the big stage for the 49ers after an 18-year absence which left many wondering if a franchise that once enjoyed Hall of Famers like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice would ever again be part of the NFL's elite.
Although formed in 1946, the glory years for a team named after gold prospectors who headed west did not truly begin until Eddie DeBartolo Jr. took over as owner and brought in head coach Bill Walsh in 1978.
Walsh selected quarterback Montana from Notre Dame in the third round of his first draft in 1979, and it was an inspired decision.
In the 1981 season, Montana's first as starter, the Niners won the NFC West division with a 13-3 record. They advanced to the Super Bowl but only after Montana found Dwight Clark in the end zone during the closing moments of the NFC Championship game in a play known simply as 'The Catch.' Continued...