The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team based in San Francisco,California, playing in the West Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The team was founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and joined the NFL in 1950 after the two leagues merged. The 49ers are well known for having one of the greatest dynasties in NFL and American sports history during the 1980s and early 1990s, winning five Super Bowl championships, including four in the 1980s. Those championship teams were led by notable hall of famers such as Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Steve Young, and coach Bill Walsh. They are currently second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers in total Super Bowl wins (6), tied with the Dallas Cowboys at 5. The 49ers won 10 or more games for 16 straight seasons. Particularly notable seasons are the 1984 and 1989 teams. The 49ers remain the only team in NFL history to appear in more than one Super Bowl without ever losing. The name "49ers" comes from the name given to the gold prospectors who arrived in Northern California around 1849 during the California Gold Rush. The name was suggested to reflect the voyagers who had rushed the West for gold. It is the only name the team has ever had and San Francisco is the only city in which it has resided. The team is legally and corporately registered as the San Francisco Forty Niners, Ltd., and is the oldest major professional sports team in California. Major League Baseball did not arrive for a few more years when the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers moved to San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively. The Philadelphia Warriors and Minneapolis Lakers moved to California in the sixties, and the Oakland Seals and Los Angeles Kings became the first NHL teams in the state in 1967. The Cleveland Rams arrived in Los Angeles in 1946. The 49ers and Los Angeles Rams were cross-state rivals until 1994, when the present St. Louis Rams left Southern California .
On January 4, 2011, Jed York promoted interim General Manager Trent Baalke to be the General Manager, Baalke took over the General Manager role after former GM Scot McCloughannow the Seattle Seahawks GM was relieved of his duties the year before. Two days later on January 7, 2011, former head coach of Stanford University Jim Harbaugh was named the 49ers new head coach. In the 2011 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected defensive end/linebacker Aldon Smith from the University of Missouri with the seventh pick of the first round. After the end of an NFL labor dispute that nearly threatened to postpone or cancel the 2011 season the 49ers made a questionable decision to re-sign Alex Smith to a one-year $4.8 million contract. Jim Harbaugh had spoke highly of him weeks after he was hired. Because of the decision to retain Smith and a shortened offseason with an entirely new coaching staff being hired, the team was expected to be among the league's worst by NFL prognosticators. However the team was able to overcome adversity as they got off to a 9-1 start that was highlighted by road wins against the Philadelphia Eagles where the team cameback from a 20-point deficit in the second half and the Detroit Lions who were undefeated at the time. The 49ers Defense became one of the most intimidating in the league and did not allow a 100-yard rusher or a single rushing touchdown through 16 weeks while other 49er players, such as Alex Smith, revived their careers. The 49ers enjoyed their most successful season in a decade and by week 13 the 49ers won the NFC West for the first time since 2002 after a victory against the St.Louis Rams. Eight 49er players were elected to go to the Pro Bowl tied for most in the NFL. The 49ers ended the regular season with a 13-3 record, their best regular season record since 1997, earning the second overall seed in the NFC Playoffs. On Saturday, January 14 the 49ers will play the Saints in the NFC Divisional Round.