No. 2 — 2004
Record: 2-14 (fourth in the NFC West)
Head Coaches: Dennis Erickson
Starting Quarterbacks: Tim Rattay, Ken Dorsey
Best Players: TE Eric Johnson, DT Bryant Young, SS Tony Parrish
The 2004 team was the least talented team the 49ers have ever put onto the field.
Last year’s roster, as bad as it was, still had NaVorro Bowman and Joe Staley leading the way. The injury-plagued and sputtering 1963 team had loads of great names from the 49ers’ early years, including Leo Nomellini, Joe Perry, Bob St. Clair and Abe Woodson. Sure, most were on their last legs, but they were there. That horrible 1978 team at the end of Joe Thomas’ era had Cedrick Hardman, Keith Fahnhorst, Randy Cross, Fred Quillan and John Ayers on it, players who had either contributed in the past or were going to contribute in the near future. We can look back and spot the notable names in franchise history.
The 2004 squad gives you Bryant Young. And that’s it. There are no aging veterans, clinging to bygone days of glory; Terrell Owens, Jeff Garcia, Derrick Deese and Garrison Hearst had all left the team that offseason. There were no young players waiting for their chance to shine; Frank Gore wouldn’t be drafted until the next season. There was Bryant Young and a big, gaping void of talent.
Losing Owens, Garcia, Deese and Hearst in one go decimated the 49ers’ offense. The defense lost it’s coordinator in Jim Mora, and new coordinator Willy Robinson proved unqualified. The team gave up the most points in the NFL while scoring the third-fewest. That is not a recipe that leads to long-term success!
The 49ers won zero games in regulation in 2004—their only two wins came on overtime field goals against Arizona, meaning the 49ers never held a lead at the end of 60 minutes. Late in the season, they three times faced an opponent with only one win—the 1-5 Chicago Bears, the 1-7 Carolina Panthers and the 1-9 Miami Dolphins. They lost them all. They lost games to the 3-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 4-9 Washington Redskins, as well. This was a bad, bad team, and Dennis Erickson was rightfully fired the year after.