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Supe’s On 2024: San Francisco 49ers Uniform History

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Good Saturday morning, Uni Watchers. I hope everyone has had a good week. ICYMI, yesterday Paul ran an “Ask Phil Anything” article, since he’ll be stepping down as Editor of this incredible site in a few months. Full details to follow today’s main article below. Be sure to check that out if you haven’t already read it.

Now then.

It’s Supe weekend, and as I’ve done for the past decade, I’m joined by Timmy Brulia, one of the head honchos over at the incredible Gridiron Uniform Database, and who will be bringing us the uniform histories of the two combatants in SB LVIII (Supe 58). There’s a LOT to get to over the next two days, so let’s just delve right in, shall we? With the 49ers the designated “road” team, we’ll start with their uni history. (Tim writes the history, but I supply the links — so if there’s anything amiss with those, blame me, not him!) Here’s Timmy:

• • • • •
San Francisco 49ers Uni History
By Timmy Brulia

• • •
1946: The 49ers (or as most newspapers referred to them in the day, the Forty-Niners) began play as members of the All-America Conference. Their original colors were red and white. They wore plain white leather helmets, a plain red jersey with white numerals with a semi-block font, white pants with a thin red side stripe, and solid red socks. They also had in their closet a white jersey with red numbers in the same semi-block font, with red northwestern stripes on the sleeves. The socks were solid white to start, but then they wore white socks with the red northwestern stripes on them.

• • •
1947: The jerseys and socks stayed the same, but gold was added to the helmet and the pants. The Niners added a red stripe to the crown of the helmet, starting at the front and ending in the back. The gold pants had a thin red side stripe. The Niners did wear the 1946 white ensemble for a home game with the New York Yankees on September 21st. Don’t ask why, because I have no idea.

• • •
1948: The Niners, apparently not sure yet of their identity, switched to silver helmets and pants from gold. All other trim remained the same. The back numbers had larger fonts than the front numbers.

• • •
1949: The Niners, from what we can gather, wore their red jerseys for the full season. In fact, there is no visual evidence that they would wear white jerseys again until 1955.

• • •
1950: The 49ers join the NFL along with their AAFC brethren Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts. The red center stripe is dropped and the silver leather helmet is now plain. A red helmet is worn for a night game against the Yanks in New York. A set of triple white stripes are worn on the sleeves and socks for games against the Rams.

• • •
1951: The silver helmets are now made of plastic (the 49ers are one of the later holdovers in the change from leather to plastic lids). The triple white stripes on sleeves and socks are now a permanent feature. The red plastic lids are worn for an early season Saturday night game at Philadelphia.

• • •
1953: The Niners open the regular season in red helmets with a thin silver stripe. The pants are now white instead of silver, with the same thin red side stripe.

• • •
1955: For the first time, black is added to the uniform. The Niners outline the numbers in black drop shadow. Black is also added to the white pants to create a red-black-red stripe combo. And for the first time since their AAFC days, the 49ers wear a white jersey (with white socks) for a game at Washington. The triple stripe pattern has the outer stripes in black, with the middle stripe in red on sleeves and socks. It does appear that SF wore silver pants with the aforementioned trim for their opener with the Rams.

• • •
1956: For the regular season, the 49ers go plain. The red helmet with the silver stripe is dropped in favor of a plain white helmet. The red jersey now resembles the 1951-1954 model (with a slight font change). The pants, while still white, now feature a thick red side stripe. The socks are unchanged. White jerseys are not worn. While most other teams in the NFL adopt the new-fangled TV numbers, the 49ers are not among them.

• • •
1957: Gold helmets and pants, not seen since the AAFC days, return. The pants are stripeless. The red uni is unchanged. With the NFL now requiring all teams to have a white set of jerseys as well as dark jerseys, the Niners bust out a jersey with a triple sleeve and stripe combo of outer gold stripes and an inner stripe of red. The white socks feature the same stripe combo, with an added crew sock with a thick red edge.

• • •
1958: The 49ers finally add TV numbers to the sleeves. The home red unis are unchanged. The whites now have a thick red shoulder stripe and solid red socks are worn with the white combo.

• • •
1959: Yet again, the Niners change helmet and pant colors, going from straight gold to straight silver. No change to the red jersey, but again a change is made to the white jersey as the thick red shoulder loop is split into two red loops, a la the Baltimore Colts. The red socks with 3 white stripes are worn with both sets.

• • •
1960: The helmet gets yet another tweak. Stripes are added to the helmet. A northwestern style of three red stripes amend the shell. All else remains the same.

• • •
1962: At last, the Niners get a helmet logo! A large red oval, thinly outlined in black, with a white “SF” (the “S” in the upper left of the oval, with the “F” in the lower right of the oval) is placed on both sides of the helmet. The stripe pattern changes as well, from the three red stripes to a red-white-red combo. Jerseys, pants and socks remain as is.

• • •
1964: One more (and … last!) time, the Niners change metals. They drop the silver for good and change to gold for the helmets and pants. Similar stripes to the helmet are added to the pants. And on the white jerseys, the shoulder loops are replaced by the same triple sleeve stripe combo (in red) found on the red jerseys. Fabric materials on the pants give the gold a darker sheen on the back as opposed to the front.

• • •
1969: The 50/NFL patch is worn on the left shoulder of both jerseys.

• • •
1970: With the merger with the AFL in full effect, the 49ers for the first time wear names on the backs (NOB) of their jerseys. They match the number color and are in a serifed font. The numbers themselves are a full block style different than previously worn. Some players (notably Cedric Hardman) begin to wear white cleats instead of the customary black.

• • •
1971: For several early season games for this season and the two following seasons (red only in 1972-1973), the Niners wear jerseys that have no sleeve stripes or TV numbers. This is the transition phase from durene jerseys to a lighter mesh-knit material.

• • •
1974: A change is made to the number font. And white cleats predominate.

• • •
1976: The white jersey is worn for all home games. In fact, the white jersey is worn for the entire regular season. Also, the pant stripes are widened noticeably. NOB are now sans serif.

• • •
1978: The numbers return to the block style.

• • •
1986: Well into the “Team of the 80’s” golden era, the Niners wear a 40th Anniversary patch, located on the left hip of the gold pants. Also, serifs return to the NOB.

• • •
1989: The 49ers add a black outline to the ‘SF’ logo on their helmets.

• • •
1994: The NFL’s 75th Season patch is worn on the left breast of the jerseys. Also, the Niners wore special throwback jerseys (paying tribute to the 1955 set) for most of the season, including the playoffs and in Super Bowl XXIX.

• • •
1996: Owing to the popularity of the throwbacks worn in 1994, the Niners make the first major changes to their togs since 1962. Starting with the helmets, the logo is tweaked to feature a gold outline followed by a thicker black outline and the stripe pattern is changed to a thick red stripe flanked by thin black stripes. And the mask color is changed from gray to red. TV numbers are moved to the shoulders. And all the numbers are changed to a double outline; the white numbers on the red jerseys feature a double outline, a thin gold outline followed by a thicker black drop shadow. the red numbers on the white jersey have the same outline features. The NOBs also have the same double outline less the drop shadow. The SF oval logo is also superimposed over the triple stripes on the sleeves. The pants are changed from gold to white with a black-red-black stripe pattern. The socks are solid red. The red mentioned here is a deeper hue than previous years. To top it all off, there’s a 50th Anniversary patch on the left breast of the jerseys.

• • •
1998: The NOBs go to a single outline, eliminating the gold outline. In the regular season, the pants are changed back to gold, with a northwestern stripe pattern, the outer stripes in black and the center stripe is a thick red. The logo is on each hip of the pants.

• • •
2002: The Niners wear an ’80s retro red uni for the November 25 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

• • •
2005: From 2005-2008, the Niners wear their ’80s retro red unis for a home game or two each season.

• • •
2007: Black cleats replace white cleats.

• • •
2009: The Niners return to the look of glory as they return to the 1964-1995 style. The helmet logo stays intact, but the stripes go from black-red-black back to red-white-red and the masks return to gray from red. The red jerseys (and red numbers on the white jerseys) return to a brighter red than the cardinal shade that had been in place since 1996. The 49ers wordmark is added and placed just above the front number. The numbers and NOB’s are again a single color rather than the busy double outline and the NOB’s have a serif. The triple stripe pattern attains a look of truncation, due to the modern day sleeve cut. The pant stripes change to match the helmet stripes.

• • •
2012: Players are given a choice between black cleats and red/gold cleats. For Super Bowl XLVII, the Niners wear the SB logo patch on the left breast of their red jerseys.

• • •
2015: For Week 1 (home against Minnesota) and Week 12 (home against Arizona) a rather gruesome black jersey/black pants combo is worn. The jersey has red numbers, stripes, wordmark and NOBs like the white jersey. The pants have two red sidestripes.

• • •
2016: A 70 Years patch is worn on the upper left breast of the white, red and black jerseys. The black jersey and pants are supplemented with all black socks with no sanitary socks as part of the Color Rush promotion. This was worn for the Week 5 Thursday night affair against the Cardinals.

• • •
2017: One subtle but very notable change across all three jerseys was the reduction from three truncated sleeve stripes to two thicker stripes on what passes for sleeves these days.

• • •
2018: The all-black look is replaced by an all-white outfit for a 10/21 game with the Rams as guests. The jersey has three red “sleeve” stripes, red front and back numbers with black drop shadow. The pants are white with a red/black/red stripe pattern and the socks are solid white.

• • •
2019: For Week 8 (at Carolina) and Week 17 (at Seattle), the 49ers wear the all-white combo. As a “bonus” the Niners go with a retro helmet logo (without the gold oval outline) for the Week 8 game. In Super Bowl LIV, the Niners sport the SB LIV patch on the left breast of the white jersey.

• • •
2020: The normal red set and white set are worn, along with the all-white retro combo.

• • •
2021: A 75th Anniversary patch is worn on the left breast of all jerseys. The retro combo, including both red and white jerseys, is worn five times.

• • •
2022: The familiar three sleeve stripes (red on the white jerseys, white on the red jerseys) make a comeback, along with a revival of the fancy 49ers wordmark on the jerseys. Retros are worn thrice (red jerseys two times, white jerseys once).

• • •
2023: The same pattern worn in 2022 holds true for 2023. For Super Bowl LVIII, the 49ers will wear the SB logo on the left breast of the white shirts.

• • •
Special note: In early 1991, the 49ers held a press conference and introduced a new helmet to be worn starting with the 1991 season. The helmet shell and stripes were to remain the same but the familiar red SF oval logo was to be replaced by a white stylized “49ERS” with black and red trim. There was such a howl and outcry from the 49er faithful that it was scrapped and the Niners resumed wearing the normal helmet without a hitch. This helmet is not included in the above timeline as it never saw action on the field of play.

• • • • •
Thanks so much, Timmy! Fantastic job as always. We’ll be back tomorrow with the uniform history of Kansas City.

 

 
  
 

Ask Me Anything...

As I mentioned at the top, with Paul stepping down as Editor, and with me taking over those duties after Paul steps down at the end of May, we figure you folks may have some questions about how I’ll be handling things, what changes I might make, what suggestions I’m open to, etc. So for the next few days, we’re inviting Uni Watch readers to send me your questions and suggestions about my upcoming stewardship of the site. As Paul says, “Think of it as a town hall meeting where you get to submit queries to the new boss.”

Additional details here.

You can ask me personal questions — although I do reserve the right not to answer if they’re too personal. I’ve received several queries so far, but I’m sure there are many of you who have thoughts on where I hope to take the site once Paul retires, as well as questions on my views on uniforms in general.

One question I’ve already gotten from multiple readers deals with my feelings on the color purple — so that will definitely be addressed and you don’t need to ask that particular question. But questions regarding any and everything else about the future of UW is welcome and I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

I’ll respond to your emails in an upcoming post, probably toward the end of next week. Thanks in advance for your input!

 

 

Guess the Game from the Scoreboard

Guess The Game…

…From The Scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Steven Stotch.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date and location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.

 

 

Guess the Game from the Uniform


Based on the suggestion of long-time reader/contributor Jimmy Corcoran, we’ve introduced a new “game” on Uni Watch, which is similar to the popular “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” (GTGFTS), only this one asked readers to identify the game based on the uniforms worn by teams.

Like GTGFTS, readers will be asked to guess the date, location and final score of the game from the clues provided in the photo. Sometimes the game should be somewhat easy to ascertain, while in other instances, it might be quite difficult. There will usually be a visual clue (something odd or unique to one or both of the uniforms) that will make a positive identification of one and only one game possible. Other times, there may be something significant about the game in question, like the last time a particular uniform was ever worn (one of Jimmy’s original suggestions). It’s up to YOU to figure out the game and date.

Today’s GTGFTU comes from Barton Hall.

Good luck and please post your guess/answer in the comments below.

 

 

Too Good for the Ticker

Got an e-mail from Chris Hickey yesterday, with the following photo writeup:

UNITED STATES – AUGUST 17: Dan CAMERFORD, age three, the mascot of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team in Jacksonville during training on March 18, 1922. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Chris added the following, “From Brooklyn Dodgers’ Spring Training, 1922 – that’s their human mascot, 3 year old Dan Camerford, Jr, (son of the team trainer)…dig those ‘Mary Janes’!”

I had never heard of this before (and I’m not entirely comfortable with the term “Human Mascot”) but wanted to know a bit more. Turns out there was this article on human mascots in baseball, although “Camerford” wasn’t mentioned.

I did a bit more digging, and it turns out the child in question was mis-identified in the above photo. His last name was “Comerford,” (as was his father), pictured below:

(Original Caption) Former Judge Landis And Some Brooklyn Players–along with the Brooklyn Dodgers mascot, Daniel Comerford Jr., is shown, held by his father the Club Trainer.

Fascinating.

I was reminded of a young Darren Baker, son of Dusty, who at the age of three served as the Giants Bat Boy during the 2002 World Series — and who was saved from potential harm by J.T. Snow. You may remember it: In the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 5 against the Anaheim Angels at San Francisco’s Pacific Bell Park, the Giants’ Kenny Lofton ripped a triple to right-center. J.T. Snow scored easily from second and as he crossed home plate, to his surprise, there was little Darren trying to retrieve Lofton’s bat in the middle of the play. With David Bell on his heels trying to score from first, Snow adeptly scooped Baker into his arms and rushed him out of harm’s way.

A PSA screening alerted Dusty Baker to his aggressive prostate cancer diagnosis before the start of the 2002 season. Post-diagnosis, he made a commitment to take Darren to as many games as possible, including that fateful World Series game where Darren almost collided with David Bell.

That in turn led to what was unofficially called the “Darren Baker Rule,” which states that batboys must be at least 14 to serve in the role.

I’m not sure how many young children served as mascots/bat boys over the century between Comerford and Baker, but we’ll never see another. And as ‘cute’ as it may have been, it’s probably for the best.

 

 

And finally...

… that’s going to do it for the early lede. Mega-plus-thanks (as always) to the fantastic Timmy Brulia for the history of the 49ers uniforms. Don’t forget he’ll be back tomorrow with the full rundown for KC.

I’ll have at least one more article this morning (and possibly more), so be sure to keep checking back, and don’t forget to shoot me a question about UW’s future post-Paul.

Everyone have a great Saturday and I’ll catch you guys tomorrow for Super Bowl Sunday!

Peace,

PH

Comments (23)

    Is anyone else bothered by the outlines on the current logos? There is a red ellipse… and then a gold border and a black border. Both borders are really narrow at the top and bottom and really wide at the left and right. To me, this has always felt like someone was bad at geometry and miscalculated how ellipses work.

    Just think of it as a circle that got squashed. It’s thinner at the top because everything is oozing out of the sides :-D I’m no geometry expert but I suppose an ellipse would be equal all the way around.

    Also, does that one-day 49ers helmet still exist somewhere? As bad as it was, it’s still historically significant.

    It’s not bad geometry because it’s not an ellipse. The 49ers logo is a SF inside of a gold pan (like the ones prospectors used in the 1800’s). Do a google search of an oval gold pan or oval prospector pan to see what I’m talking about

    Do you have a source on that? While I agree that it COULD be interpreted that way, I’ve never heard that before even as a lifelong Niners fan and Bay Area native nor as an avid uni-phile and logo design enthusiast. Not saying it isn’t the case, just curious to see some more about it if true.

    GTGFTS
    Preseason game 24 Aug 2019 during warmups
    Wishful thinking by the Chiefs’ scoreboard, as the real final score is SF 27, KC17.

    GTGFTU
    10 Nov 2002
    Only time Trent Green played in Candlestick as a Chief.
    Hall of Famer Willie Roaf putting a block on Andre Carter.
    Niners win this one too, 17-13.

    Fantastic job on the 49ers uni history, Phil! I would still like to know how many seasons the current NOB serif font has been in use, characterized by the “flat top” C and G.

    Thanks — but your praise belongs to Timmy Brulia, not me. He’s the researcher…I just find the pics!

    I’m not advocating for the ‘9ers to change a thing…but if the mask needs a refresh, I think white would look terrific.

    I didn’t think we’d agree on this one!
    Then again, I’d like to see white facemasks on every helmet.

    It’s surprising how many weak variations the 49ers went through, considering that they had/have one of the best uniforms in the league.

    Gonna make a bold claim here. The 49er current uniforms are the best they’ve ever had, and currently among the top 3 in the NFL.

    The helmet is too shiny nowadays.
    Even with that ‘flaw’ they’re easily in the upper echelon of NFL uniforms.
    Hold out hope that someday the ‘57 white top will reappear.

    love this site but will never love the term “supe.” is this a UW specific term or common and i’ve been under exposed?

    1991 addendum: Phil, I believe you forgot to mention the switch (and lone holdover from the planned uniform refresh) from socks with three white stripes to solid red socks, as detailed in this past UniWatch article:

    link

    The Niners would only ever bring the striped socks back for the early season throwback games in 1994 (they switched back to solid red socks to pair with the throwbacks mid-season) and those few 1980’s throwback games 2002-08. Since the 2009 redesign the striped socks have yet to return.

    TGFTT:
    Thanks for the correction and additional research, PhiI!
    Yeah, I should have used better phrasing/fact-checking…TBPH, I was more focused on correctly identifying the type of shoes worn than sensitivities and such – I’ll think harder in the future.

    Unpopular opinion: I’ve always liked the super wide red/white/red pants stripes the Niners wore in their glory years. I know it’s a bit garish but it was brilliant in that the striping pattern was familiar, but it did have its own unique feel to set them apart from the Cowboys, Packers, Bears, Lions, etc that wore the similar three stripe pants pattern.

    Popular opinion: Every time I see this BFBS uniforms I am reminded that I’m not just a salty old fart; those things objectively look that bad. Just a horrid idea.

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