Record: 12-6 (Lost Divisional Round to Green Bay)
Head Coach: George Seifert
Starting Quarterbacks: Steve Young, Elvis Grbac
Best Players: WR Jerry Rice, LB Ken Norton, QB Steve Young
The 1995 team better than the Super Bowl team the year before? Blasphemy.
But stay with me here. Steve Young, on a per-game basis, was more productive than he’d ever been, throwing for an average of 290.9 yards per game, without dropping off in the efficiency department. Jerry Rice set his own personal record and the then-NFL record with 1,848 receiving yards, averaging more than 100 yards per game for the only time in his career. While they couldn’t quite match the insane 505 points put up the year before, in large part due to Young missing five games with shoulder issues, they still led the league in points. They still had John Taylor and Brent Jones doing work in the receiving game, and a stellar offensive line.
The defense, despite the loss of Deion Sanders, was even better in ’95 than it was in ’94. With Bryant Young and Dana Stubblefield up front, Lee Woodall and Ken Norton at linebacker and Eric Davis, Tim McDonald and Merton Hanks in the secondary, the 49ers allowed just 258 points, 38 fewer than they had the year before. If you could somehow merge the ’94 offense with the ’95 defense, you might well have the best 49ers team of all time.
Of course, 49ers fans will remember what happened in the playoffs against the Packers, who proved to be an unsurpassable obstacle for the 49ers in most of the late ‘90s. A Craig Newsome fumble recovery for a touchdown helped the Packers pull off the upset over the 49ers, favored by ten points. One game doesn’t wipe out the great performance of the entire season, but the loss stings. If The Catch was the moment the 49ers dynasty began, Newsome’s fumble recovery and the ensuing shell shock was the moment the dynasty ended.