San Francisco 49ers of 1987 were favorites to win the Super Bowl title according to ESPN. This was because of their good rankings at the league in both offense and defense. As fate would have it, this team disappointed after almost tasting the top title in their best season.
Super Bowls: 5 Titles
1981, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1994
This list was compiled looking at a couple of factors to showcase teams that almost made it to the top. There is no doubt that many franchises have suffered major surprises when it all came down to one final game. Many reasons have been given to explain why the teams never really made it. Nevertheless, many have taken these lessons in a bid to perform better in future.
In their regular season, the 49ers team of 87 sailed through effortlessness, trumping over their rivals along the way. However, the tables turned when the divisional rounds came around. The underdog Vikings emerged to assert their position taking a 20-3 lead to the delight of cheering fans; and taking the win with 36-24. Many have blamed this dismal performance on overconfidence. The Vikings by all standards were underdogs who seemingly did not stand a chance. The 49ers odds for the season had been brighter than ever. According to media reports, the overconfidence in the 49ers players played a critical role where they underestimated the ability of the Vikings at the time. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings were brushing their skills and looking to break out for the season.
In the 1978 season, controversy was brewing over player positions. Joe Montana suffered an injury and needed a replacement for the quarterback slot. The man who was chosen was Steve Young. Young joined San Francisco from Tampa Bay. When Montana came back for the playoff game, he was quickly replaced by Young. This decision has been questioned by many for many years. Maybe Montana would have steered the team to a better destination if he had remained. This controversy was widely written about and it haunted the Niners until Kansas City acquired Montana in 1993.
Position anxiety and confusion for players is always something that can pull a team down. This is because the players are not able to fully dig in their feet to grasp their role and how to deliver. In such cases, choosing a very seasoned player is the sure way to mitigate the problem; however, this does not always promise results. In the case of San Fransisco in 87, Young did not deliver as expected. The 49ers managed to feature as number 10 in the list of teams that almost attained the top title.
This ESPN list was arrived at by using a rating system derived from the overall scores at the NFL games. The season performances were then assessed to determine the likelihood of wins and losses on average for individual teams. The team that made it first to the list are the Indianapolis Colts of 1968. The second team to feature in this list were the Patriots of 2007. Indeed, after a much anticipated win, New England was shamed by the Giants to concede a hard defeat at the top game in 2008.
|1981||Bill Walsh||XVI||Pontiac, Michigan||Cincinnati Bengals||26–21||16–3|
|1984||Bill Walsh||XIX||Stanford, California||Miami Dolphins||38–16||18–1|
|1988||Bill Walsh||XXIII||Miami||Cincinnati Bengals||20–16||13–6|
|1989||George Seifert||XXIV||New Orleans||Denver Broncos||55–10||17–2|
|1994||George Seifert||XXIX||Miami||San Diego Chargers||49–26||16–3|
|Total Super Bowls won:||5|
|1981||Bill Walsh||San Francisco||Dallas Cowboys||28–27||16–3|
|1984||Bill Walsh||San Francisco||Chicago Bears||23–0||18–1|
|1988||Bill Walsh||Chicago||Chicago Bears||28–3||13–6|
|1989||George Seifert||San Francisco||Los Angeles Rams||30–3||17–2|
|1994||George Seifert||San Francisco||Dallas Cowboys||38–28||16–3|
|2012||Jim Harbaugh||Atlanta||Atlanta Falcons||28–24||13–4–1|
|Total NFC championships won:||6|