Image Credit:Mark Herreid (shutterstock.com)

The last time that the San Francisco 49ers won the Super Bowl, they were coming to the end of an awesome dynasty.

Back in 1995, they had claimed five Super Bowl victories in the space of 14 years – with George Seifert’s players providing the full stop to a remarkable run of success. But since ’95, the 49ers have only been able to dream about the Super Bowl – defeats in 2013 and 2020 are a harsh reminder of how hard it is to get your hands on the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

So, will San Francisco finally end their three-decade-long hoodoo in 2024?

California Dreaming

After a regular season run, in which they went 12-5 and 10-2 in the NFC Conference, the 49ers are now sportsbook favourites, with the NFL odds pricing them at 9/4.

Those betting on the Super Bowl will also be interested in the Baltimore Ravens (10/3), whose 13-4 was the best regular season record, the Buffalo Bills (13/2) and the Dallas Cowboys (17/2) while accepting that an underdog may yet prevail given the unpredictable nature of the NFL playoffs.

But it’s hard to look past San Francisco after their outstanding regular season campaign. They gained more yards per offensive play, on average, than any other franchise, scored the third-highest points tally and conceded the third-lowest amount of points too.

That’s evidence that every aspect of their game is in great shape, with head coach Kyle Shanahan doing a tremendous job of balancing his side’s offensive instincts with a stout defensive unit.

Shanahan is also afforded the benefit of calling upon some outstanding individual talents. Christian McCaffrey is one of the best rushers in the NFL – both anecdotally and statistically, with his haul of 1,459 yards better than that recorded by any other player during the regular season.

And while they might not have a Tyreek Hill-style speedster in their receiving corps, they do have Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle – both have enjoyed excellent campaigns so far.

If nothing else, the ingredients for a Super Bowl recipe for success are in place for San Fran.

Familiar Foe

The irony is that the 49ers could face the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC divisional playoffs – the team that handed San Francisco one of their five defeats during the regular season.

That contest earlier in January was perhaps not the best indicator of the two teams’ progress – McCaffrey and Kittle were absent for the 49ers, while backup quarterback Sam Darnold was also given a rare start as Shanahan shuffled his pack.

But even so, the Rams delivered a rousing second-half performance to come back from a 7-20 deficit at half-time, rallying to produce a perfect 14-0 effort in the final two quarters to secure a narrow 21-20 margin of victory – a win that saw them claim one of the last remaining wild cards at the expense of the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints.

 

Whatever the minutiae, the Rams will take a lot of confidence from that victory at Levi’s Stadium – the venue where they could run into the 49ers in the playoffs if they win their wild-card game against the Detroit Lions.

Could history repeat itself in the battle for Californian supremacy?