49ers Model Franchise--10/21/01
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It’s well documented that the 49ers were the model team of the eighty’s and ninety’s. Winning five Super Bowls over that time, and compiling not only the best two decade win/loss record, but having the best record for each of those two decades 113-47 in the ninety’s and 104-47-1 during the eighty’s. Their run of success included countless NFC West championships, many NFC trophies and title games and of course, Pro Bowl, and Hall Of Fame players.

There really is no arguing that the 49ers were the best team of the past two decades, the “model franchise” if you will. The amazing part is, they are on their way to becoming the model franchise of this decade too. And they are doing it in part without winning. It seems like just about every team in the NFL will have to go through the salary cap torture the 49ers were faced with (with the possible exception of a few franchises, perhaps the Bengals who incidentally had the worst record in ninety’s). The 49ers have, in the process of coming back from being ten’s of million dollars over the salary cap, and in the process of an ownership lawsuit and changeover, essentially laid out a blue print on how to return from the depths of the NFL.

While no one is claiming the 49ers are all the way back yet, they certainly seem to be most of the way, and in just three seasons. So how did they do it, when other teams like Dallas, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh (all with several bad seasons some due to the salary cap some not) seem like they will be down there forever? Well the first thing is, the management on the team have to want to win, and be committed to doing that.

Before leaving the team as owner, or rather being dismissed from the team as owner, Eddie Debartlo Jr brought back Bill Walsh to assemble a front office dedicated to winning. The 49ers already had brought in Steve Mariucci as coach and were very happy with him. Walsh brought Terry Donhaue with him as well as former 49ers General Manager John McVay. The four worked in tandem to put together a plan to get under the salary cap, and reload the team with talent at the same time.

The blue print seemed to have worked. Three years later, the 49ers are sitting tied for second in the NFL, and with what seems to be a very solid group of young players on the team. The salary cap troubles are extremely minor compared to what the team has already battled through, and there is very little ‘dead money’ on the team. The challenge that lies ahead, is keeping all this talent within the organization.

The 49ers once known for being one of the oldest teams in the league quickly became the youth movement of the NFL. The younger and faster players are working hard to return the 49ers franchise to the glory it was. This off-season the 49ers front office staff, now headed by Terry Donahue the successor to Bill Walsh, will have to make some very tough decisions on the talent on the team. There are several players the team feels are imperative to bring back to the squad, and those they simply can’t keep will need to be replaced through another successful draft.

It’s a long road a head, but the 49ers have a solid foundation on which to build on. The team’s turn around from bust to boom seems like it has set a new standard for struggling teams in the NFL. Once again, the 49ers are on their way to being the model franchise in the NFL.

Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum

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