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49ers dynasty of the ‘80s and ‘90s ranks No. 2 all-time by Football Outsiders

May 28, 2020 at 9:05 AM--

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Football Outsiders just finished up their ranking of the NFL's all-time greatest dynasties and concluded on Thursday with their top 10 list. There was no doubt that the San Francisco 49ers dynasty of the '80s and '90s that won five Super Bowls in that span would rank pretty high on the list. It landed at the No. 2 spot, with only the New England Patriots of the past two decades ahead of it.

The 49ers went 207-72-1 during those 18 years and featured some of the best ever to play the game — names like Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Dwight Clark, and many, many more.

"I'm unimpressed by barking, scowling coaches; give me the genius psychologist, scripting plays and designing new formations practically every week," writes Bryan Knowles of Football Outsiders. "I still believe Joe Montana is the greatest quarterback of all time, and Steve Young had even better numbers. Jerry Rice is the receiver to whom all others are compared.

"Part of the reason I enjoy watching Christian McCaffrey so much today is his receiving chops, and well, Roger Craig was the first running back in history to pull off the 1,000-yard rushing/1,000-yard receiving combo. Call them a finesse team and take a shot from Ronnie Lott, or Ken Norton, or Charles Haley, or watch Merton Hanks chicken-necking his way into the end zone yet again."

Knowles goes on to point out the succession plans that helped the 49ers succeed for so long. They went from Bill Walsh to George Seifert and Montana to Young.

"The team never skipped a beat," Knowles added.

There is also the dynasty's reach across the NFL. The Walsh coaching tree is massive, with branches spanning the league, and then spawning branches of their own.

Why didn't the 49ers rank No. 1 on the list?

"Their stellar 5-0 record in Super Bowls sort of hides the fact that they only made five Super Bowls," explains Knowles. "Yes, I know, 'only,' but we're talking about the top two dynasties of all time here."

He goes on to break down some of the missed opportunities throughout the years that could have led to more Super Bowls. Plays like Roger Craig's fumble against the New York Giants or games that saw the Dallas Cowboys or Green Bay Packers kill the team's Super Bowl hopes.

Adds Knowles: "The 49ers would have been favored in the Super Bowl each time. Flip a couple of those San Francisco's way, and they're probably still on top of this list."

Click here to read the entire feature from Football Outsiders.

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