By Phil Hecken
Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday. That’s really all that needs to be said. Now, it’s just the countdown until kickoff. There might be a few minutes of pregame somewhere.
Yesterday, we took a look at the uniform history of the Baltimore Ravens (and a fantastic job was done by Timmy Brulia and Rob Holecko from the Gridiron Uniform Database). Today, it’s time for their opponents, the San Francisco 49ers.
Unlike the Ravens, who were “born” in 1996, the Niners have been around a bit longer, and as such, they have a more intricate uniform history. Rob handled thumbs and inline images (click to enlarge), and I filled in the hyperlinks. Now, let’s take a look at that now as the boys from the GUD take a look at the…
49ers Through The Years
By Timmy Brulia & Rob Holecko
1946: The 49ers (or as most newspapers referred to them in the day, the Forty-Niners) began play as members of the All-America Conference. Their original colors were red and white. They wore plain white leather helmets, a plain red jersey with white numerals with a semi-block font, white pants with a thin red side stripe, and solid red socks. They also had in their closet a white jersey with red numbers in the same semi-block font, with red northwestern stripes on the sleeves. The socks were solid white to start, but then they wore white socks with the red northwestern stripes on them.
1947: The jerseys and socks stayed the same, but gold was added to the helmet and the pants. The Niners added a red stripe to the crown of the helmet, starting at the front and ending in the black. The gold pants had a thin red side stripe. The Niners did wear the 1946 white ensemble for a home game with the New York Yankees on September 21st. Don’t ask why, because I have no idea.
1950: The 49ers join the NFL along with their AAFC brethren Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts. The red center stripe in dropped and the silver leather helmet is now plain. A red helmet is worn for a night game against the Yanks in New York. A set of triple white stripes are worn on the sleeves and socks for games against the Rams.
1951: The silver helmets are now made of plastic (the 49ers are one of the later holdovers in the change from leather to plastic lids). The triple white stripes on sleeves and socks are now a permanent feature.
1955: For the first time, black is added to the uniform. The Niners outline the numbers in black drop shadow. Black is also added to the white pants to create a red-black-red stripe combo. And for the first time since their AAFC days, the 49ers wear a white jersey (with white socks) for a game at Washington. The triple stripe pattern has the outer stripes in black, with the middle stripe in red on sleeves and socks. [Here's what must be a training camp photo -- note the lack of drop shadow numbers -- PH]
1956: For the regular season, the 49ers go plain. The red helmet with the silver stripe is dropped in favor of a plain white helmet. The red jersey now resembles the 1951-1954 model (with a slight font change). The pants, while still white, now feature a thick red side stripe. The socks are unchanged. White jerseys are not worn. While most other teams in the NFL adopt the new-fangled TV numbers, the 49ers are not among them.
1957: Gold helmets and pants, not seen since the AAFC days, return. The pants are stripeless. The red uni is unchanged. With the NFL now requiring all teams to have a white set of jerseys as well as dark jerseys, the Niners bust out a jersey with a triple sleeve and stripe combo of outer gold stripes and an inner stripe of red. The white socks feature the same stripe combo, with and added crew sock with a thick red edge.
1959: Yet again, the Niners change helmet and pant colors, going from straight gold to straight silver. No change to the red jersey, but again a change is made to the white jersey as the thick red shoulder loop is split into two red loops, a la the Baltimore Colts.
1962: At last, the Niners get a helmet logo! A large red oval, thinly outlined in black, with a white “SF” (the “S” in the upper left of the oval, with the “F” in the lower right of the oval) is placed on both sides of the helmet. The stripe pattern changes as well, from the three red stripes to a red-white-red combo. Jerseys, pants and socks remain as is.
1964: One more (and…last!) time, the Niners change metals. The drop the silver for good and change to gold for the helmets and pants. Stripes as on the helmet are added to the pants. And on the white jerseys, the shoulder loops are replaced by the same triple sleeve stripe combo (in red) found on the red jerseys. Fabric materials on the pants give the gold a darker sheen on the back as opposed to the front.
1969: The 50/NFL patch is worn on the left shoulder of both jerseys.
1970: With the merger with the AFL in full effect, the 49ers for the first time wear names of the backs (NOB) of their jerseys. They match the number color and are in a serifed font. The numbers themselves are a full block style than previously worn. Some players (notably Cedric Hardman) begin to wear white cleats instead of the customary black.
1971: For several early season games for this season and the two following seasons (red only in 1972-1973), the Niners wear jerseys hat have no sleeve stripes or TV numbers. This is the transition phase from durene jerseys to a lighter mesh-knit material.
1976: The white jersey is worn for all home games. In fact, the white jersey is worn for the entire regular season. Also, the pant stripes are widened noticeably. NOB are now sans serif.
1989: The 49ers add a black outline to the ‘SF’ logo on their helmets.
1994: The NFL’s 75th Season patch is worn on the left breast of the jerseys. Also, the Niners wore special throwback jerseys (paying tribute to the 1955 set) for most of the season, including the playoffs and in Super Bowl XXIX. Here’s a full game-by-game breakdown on what they wore and when during this Championship season.
1996: Owing to the popularity of the throwbacks worn in 1994, the Niners make the first major changes to their togs since 1962. Starting with the helmets, the logo is tweaked to feature gold outline followed by a thicker black outline and the stripe pattern is changed to a thick red stripe flanked by thin black stripes. And the mask color is changed from gray to red. TV numbers are moved to the shoulders. And all the numbers are changed to a double outline; the white numbers on the red jerseys feature a double outline, a thin gold outline followed by a thicker black drop shadow. the red numbers on the white jersey have the same outline features. The NOBs also have the same double outline less the drop shadow. The SF oval logo is also superimposed over the triple stripes on the sleeves. The pants are changed from gold to white with a black-red-black stripe pattern. The socks are solid red. The red mentioned here is a deeper hue than previous years. To top it all off, there’s a 50th Anniversary patch on the left breast of the jerseys.
1998: The NOBs go to a single outline, eliminating the gold outline. In the regular season, the pants are changed back to gold, with a northwestern stripe pattern, the outer stripes in black and the center stripe is a thick red. The logo is on each hip of the pants.
2005: From 2005-2008, the Niners wear their 80’s retro red unis for a home game or two each season.
2007: Black cleats replace white cleats.
2009: The Niners return to the look of glory as they return to the 1964-1995 style. The helmet logo stays intact, but the stripes go from black-red-black back to red-white-red and the masks return to gray from red. The red jerseys (and red numbers on the white jerseys) return to a brighter red than the cardinal shade that had been in place since 1996. The 49ers wordmark is added and placed just above the front number. The numbers and NOB’s are again a single color rather than the busy double outline and the NOB’s have a serif. The triple stripe pattern attain a look of truncation, due to the modern day sleeve cut. The pant stripes change to match the helmet stripes.
The 2009 unis have been worn to date.
2012: Players given choice between black cleats and red/gold cleats.
Special note: In early 1991, the 49ers held a press conference and introduced a new helmet to be worn starting with the 1991 season. The helmet shell and stripes were to remain the same but the familiar red SF oval logo was to be replaced by a white stylized “49ERS” with black and red trim. There was such a howl and outcry from the 49er faithful that it was scrapped and the Niners resumed wearing the normal helmet without a hitch. This helmet is not included in the above timeline as it never saw action on the field of play.
Good luck in XLVII, 49ers!
[If you'd like to see the extended version of this post, with additional graphics and photographs, visit the Gridiron Uniform Database blog]
Thanks Tim & Rob! Great job (again) with the 49ers uni history. Like the Ravens yesterday, I’ll wish good luck to the Niners, but unlike the Ravens, I’ll be rooting for the Niners. Now…how many hours is it till kickoff?
Make sure you guys thank Tim & Rob down below and let them know what a great job they did with the history of the unis!
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
And so, lets begin:
We begin today with Bert Ayres, who new looks for the Titans of Tennessee:
Mr. Hecken :
I’m not going to dance around it, I hate the Titans uniforms. Even their font makes me upset, so I’m trashing their current concept and going with something closer to the old Oilers look. I ditched the dark blue and made the red more prominent. I also don’t like their current helmet logo, so I’m removing the Tennessee state flag logo from their sword graphic and going with that.
Next up is Kyle Hardee, with a new set of duds for the Dolphins:
I decided to take on the Miami Dolphins. I think the current uni is almost perfect so I didn’t stray too far from it. I have a logo change that was actually rendered by Mike Pister and it is basically a another modernized version of their current logo. I did the uniforms myself.
And we close today with Josh Escobar who has a concept for the Buffalo Bison(s):
Josh Escobar again, this time with another throwback for the Bills but as the 1946 Buffalo Bison. I sent my last pic of the giants concept and appreciated the positive feedback. Thanks.
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
And in that other bowl…
Yes, the Super Bowl is today. No one in the world doesn’t know that. But an almost equally important bowl is taking place from 3-5 pm ET on Animal Planet — before that other game. What’s that?
The Puppy Bowl, of course.
Not only that, there is a “Most Valuable Pup” award, a water bowl cam, slow-motion cameras, hedgehog cheerleaders, a puppy hot tub and a blimp with a crew of hamsters. I mean, shit, who doesn’t love hedgehogs?
But none of that is why it’s great.
It’s great because the Puppy Bowl’s (and this is the IXth one of these, having been started in 2005), goal is to raise awareness of the need to stop animal cruelty and to adopt homeless animals. And while that’s not what UW is about, both of those are very worthy causes. Plus, it’s two hours of, to borrow a phrase from a guy who’s covered the game before, cutegasm. Who doesn’t enjoy a two-hour cutegasm?
So, instead of watching endless droning before the game about the storylines you’ve heard for two weeks…check out the Puppy Bowl instead. You can still watch the game and Beyonce at halftime…but the pregame goes to the dogs.
The First Washington, D.C. UW Gathering (Uni Watch Party), taking place at Hamilton’s Bar & Grill, is coming up this Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 7:30 pm. I’ll be making the trek down to D.C. along with Paul (well, we’re traveling separately) and looking forward to meeting up with all you fine D.C. (and hopefully surrounding area) readers. Don’t forget, along with your favorite jersey — make sure you wear your finest rups — Comrade Marshall will be considering everyone’s hosiery in the awarding of the *final* UW stirrup. The next day, Paul & I will be attending the Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports symposium — sounds like it’s open to the public (and FREE!) so maybe we’ll see some of you fine readers there as well.
And that’s it for today — SUPER BOWL SUNDAY.
Everyone have a great day, enjoy the SB. I will catch most of you next weekend and see some of you Wednesday night.
“(F)or the record some of us (speaking only for myself) wouldn’t hate the solid black no-stripe pant look if they wouldn’t wear it with black socks so they don’t look like damn ballerinas in leotards.”