25 years ago, the 49ers briefly switched to hideous helmets

If you’ve never seen the helmets the San Francisco 49ers rolled out 25 years ago this week, that’s understandable: The team never wore them in a game.

But those helmets, which replaced the classic “SF” logo with a then-modern looking “49ers” logo, were introduced with great fanfare by coach George Seifert and owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. in February of 1991, with the team saying it was time for a fresh look. It did not go over well.

“The phones keep ringing,” team PR assistant Al Barba told the San Francisco Chronicle. “People are saying the old logo was classier, that it meant San Francisco. I guess they basically don’t like it.”

It’s easy to see why they didn’t like it: That “49ers” logo was ugly, and the old “SF” logo, which the team still uses today, is classy. Some fans worried that moving away from “SF” was the first step toward moving out of San Francisco.

“That’s great, the new logo stunk,” one fan told the Chronicle after DeBartolo apologized and announced his team wouldn’t change logos after all. “I was kind of worried that if DeBartolo could change the helmet logo that fast, the next thing [it] was going to be the San Jose 49ers.”

As it turned out, the 49ers now play closer to San Jose than to San Francisco. But at least they’re not wearing ugly helmets.

41 responses to “25 years ago, the 49ers briefly switched to hideous helmets

  1. Well, the helmets are classic but now the rest of their unies are a disaster.

    York is well bent on incorporating the color black into the red and gold scheme and the results are just hideous.

  2. Back in the day the 49ers always had the classiest uniform in the league (and still do, albeit less ahead now that some other teams, like Tampa and the Pats, have semi-emulated elements of the design). Although I was a big Montana fan (even following him away to KC), I think as an impressionable kid the classy uniforms also drew me in. Stay classy SF!

  3. I remember in the 90’s when they wanted to go with new uniforms that were black. Seems like the nephew York wanted to finish what his uncle started by having black uniforms. The only think good that came from the black uniforms were the hats.

  4. If you don’t change your uniforms you can’t take advantage of all that throwback cash that’s out there in the market.

  5. The only teams that should have black in the unis are the Raiders and Ravens. Everyone else just needs to get over themselves and use color.

  6. kevpft says:
    Feb 20, 2016 10:53 AM

    The only teams that should have black in the unis are the Raiders and Ravens. Everyone else just needs to get over themselves and use color.
    The Panthers have had black in their uniforms since day 1. They seem to be doing fine with it.

  7. The Niners are jealous of how cool black jerseys look on the Raiders. Thats why they created those hideous black and red ones that the fans all hated last offseason. The Niners cant seem to get anything right lately. not a stadium, not fieldturf, not a new uniform, not a coaching staff and definitely not a football team. Who doesnt have it better?

  8. I remember this one. One would think that with all of the “artistic”, “colorful”, or “creative” types in the San Francisco Bay area (Not that there’s anything wrong with that) they most certainly could’ve come up with something better. As for old logo it was simple and classy, yeah, but given the behavior of some of this new generation of 9er fans this ugly and classless logo could apply.

  9. a team should call themselves by what city they play in, not the nearest big city. if you play in santa clara you should call yourself the ‘santa clara whatevers’, same with those anahiem teams and so on.
    the other cities should sue the teams for using their names fraudulently

  10. I guess Panthers should use some black, as I haven’t seen many neon sky blue cats. I also haven’t seen many Panthers in Raleigh or Greensboro so the nickname is dumb.

  11. They should make the players, coaches and the owner wear that ugly helmet and the rest of that ugly 90’s gear until they stop playing like an ugly team. How do you go from the Super Bowl to the toilet as quickly as this organization has? As a football fan it doesn’t sit well.
    By the way. I remember when they wanted to go with that look. I thought it was ugly then too.

  12. I know the younger crowds like to change everything to what they like such as black uniforms and techno-logos (that’s alright but I hope they know it will happen to them someday too) but the classic looks are much better.

    I really miss the the Patriot hiking the football logo.

    The old Bronco uniforms and logo was much better than dreadful uniforms they changed them too.

    I would love to see the Falcons revert back to their red uniforms and ditch the awful (Jerry Glanville) black look.

    The Bengals, who’s uniforms probably weren’t that great to begin with, changed to what many consider to be the ugliest uniforms of all time and, to make matters worse, have kept them.

    I guess it’s all a matter of taste but sometimes awful is awful.

  13. Another fun fact about the niners that happened 25 years ago. They won their last Lombardi trophy. It’s been a long time and still they spout this nobody has it better nonsense. Ok, it’s actually been 21 years but I think you get the point ctiggs.

  14. Funny hearing Raiders fans talk about the 49ers when the reality is that they’ve won as many games in 2 terrible seasons as the Raiders have in 3. You still play on a baseball field…and raw sewage. Fitting.

  15. That logo they introduced in 1991 had the identical logo to the Long Beach State football team, also known as the 49ers (that football program disbanded a few years later). There were quite a lot of comments at the time of how similar the helmets looked back then.

  16. How about a jazzed up Olde English “SC” on there instead. Then rename the team to Santa Clara Nortenos in honor of the goons who have seemingly ruined the reputation of their teams fanbase. The ‘SC’ could also stand for Slick Chip

  17. newsflash…the Bears and Steelers have worn black since their inception–and the Bengals and others have had black trim;

    the trouble with black is that it doesn’t show up well on TV even in the brightest sunlight, and as such it can actually inhibit the refs from making correct calls (not that they do now);

  18. It’s funny when people make comments about calling teams by the city their stadium is in. In that case we would have the “East Rutheford Giants/Jets” and the “Foxboro Patriots”. It’s actually kind of cute that all these fair weather clowns have comments about it. The teams is the SF 49ers. They all have been and always will be.

    It’s clearly apparent that most of you are 12s mad that you have 1 measly SB, or bandwagon fans of some other lowly team with the same issue.

  19. For people suggesting that when teams move they need to change their names to whatever city they move to just remember that when ticket prices are hiked, again, because of the costs involved with changing all of the naming rights, copywrites, and patents.

  20. I hope Chip Kelly and Jed York bring this logo back. I’d actually consider not changing the channels when a 49ers game is playing if they did.

    At least make it a ‘throwback’ for 1-2 weeks this year. It seems like something the ol’ ‘genius’ Chipper would agree with.

  21. News Flash… Bears wear dark blue.

    You forgot the Saints, but it was Steelers ,Raider and Saints for decades and now everyone gets to pick a third color? If black is one of your two colors, so be it, but don’t go black just because you picked two bad colors.

  22. What year did San Fran use the ugly burgundy facemasks and added black??? ’94-2001 or so…. That was ugly!!

  23. Looks like they held a contest with all of the local grade schools to see who could come up with the best design…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!