The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team located in the San Francisco Bay Area. They compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member of the league’s National Football Conference (NFC) West division. The team currently plays its home games at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, located 45 miles (72 km) southeast of San Francisco in the heart of Silicon Valley. Since 1988, the 49ers have been headquartered in Santa Clara.
The team was founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and joined the NFL in 1949 when the leagues merged. The 49ers were the first major league professional sports franchise based in San Francisco. The name “49ers” comes from the prospectors who arrived in Northern California in the 1849 Gold Rush. The team is legally and corporately registered as the San Francisco Forty Niners, Ltd. The team began play at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco before moving across town to Candlestick Park in 1970 and then to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara in 2014. The 49ers won five Super Bowl championships between 1981 and 1995, led by Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Steve Young, and coach Bill Walsh. As of the 2016 NFL season, the team has won a total of six conference championships, with the first in 1981 and the last in 2012. They have been division champions a total of 19 times between 1970 and 2012 winning nearly back to back games during the late 80s and early 90s, making them one of the most successful teams in NFL history. The 49ers have been in the league playoffs a total of 26 times: 25 times in the NFL and one time in the AAFC.
The San Francisco 49ers, an original member of the new All-America Football Conference (AAFC), were the first major league professional sports franchise based in San Francisco, and one of the first major league professional sports teams based on the Pacific Coast. The team joined the Los Angeles Rams of the rival National Football League as the first “big four”-sport playing in the Western United States in 1946, eventually becoming part of the NFL themselves in 1950.
In 1957, the 49ers enjoyed their first sustained success as members of the NFL. After losing the opening game of the season, the 49ers won their next three against the Rams, Bears, and Packers before returning home to Kezar Stadium for a game against the Chicago Bears on October 27, 1957. The 49ers fell behind the Bears 17–7. Tragically, 49ers owner Tony Morabito (1910–1957) collapsed of a heart attack and died during the game. The 49ers players learned of his death at halftime when coach Frankie Albert was handed a note with two words: “Tony’s gone.” With tears running down their faces, and motivated to win for their departed owner, the 49ers scored 14 unanswered points to win the game, 21–17. Dicky Moegle’s late-game interception in the endzone sealed the victory. After Tony’s death 49er ownership went to Victor Morabito (1919–1964) and Tony’s widow, Josephine V. Morabito (1910–1995). The 49ers special assistant to the Morabitos, Louis G. Spadia (1921–2013) was named general manager.
Sourdough Sam is a mascot for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. According to his official biography, he has five nicknames: Sam, Sammy, Samster, Sammiester, Samarama. Sourdough Sam’s birthday is April 9, likely coinciding with the month-date format of the day, 4/9. In 2015, a video of Sourdough Sam making his own birthday cake was released on this date. He has a Facebook page with over 80,000 likes and a Twitter page with username @SourdoughSam49, both of which release posts referring to him in the first person. These social media outlets are often used for promotional advertising content portrayed as being endorsed by Sam himself, such as the Fathful 49 Loyalty Program and the 49ers’ Kids Club.
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