The San Francisco 49ers had a chance to become the latest team to join the six Super Bowl club. With a win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 58, they would’ve joined the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots as the only franchises with six trophies.
But they fell short, falling to the Chiefs 25-22 in overtime, only the second Super Bowl overtime in NFL history. QB Patrick Mahomes hit WR Mecole Hardman Jr. in the right flat for the game-winning score, a touchdown after the 49ers’ opening drive ended in a field goal. The 49ers began the season with a blowout win over the Steelers. They end it with a crushing loss.
San Francisco has won all five Super Bowls since 1981, their first Lombardi coming in Super Bowl XVI. They beat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21. They won their second three years later, blowing out the Miami Dolphins 38-16. And they went back-to-back in 1988 and 1989, again beating the Bengals before destroying the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV. It made the 49ers the team of the 80s, following up on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 70s dynasty.
Under Steve Young, the 49ers won their fifth in 1994 in another convincing victory, beating up on the San Diego Chargers 49-26. Since, they’ve had two chances to capture their sixth but lost both occasions. In 2012, the Baltimore Ravens knocked them off in Super Bowl XLVII. And in 2019, they lost their first matchup against Mahomes and the Chiefs, 31-20, allowing 21 fourth quarter points.
Pittsburgh won their sixth Super Bowl in the 2008-2009 season, losing a chance to win a seventh two years later. Since, they’ve struggled to even make it to the AFC Title Game, making it back in 2016 but falling to the New England Patriots. That was the last season the team won a playoff game.
The Patriots have won all six of their rings since the turn of the century, all with Tom Brady as their quarterback. Their sixth Lombardi came in 2018 but without Brady, the franchise has crumbled. And they’re starting over with Bill Belichick pushed out and Jerod Mayo the team’s new head coach.
Who will be first to win their seventh? The Steelers and Patriots remain the top two but neither team looks to be in short-term position to win another. Pittsburgh is good enough to make the postseason but haven’t gotten over the hump of winning a game. They won’t become true competitors until their quarterback situation is settled. The Patriots are in complete rebuild mode, finishing below .500 in three of the last four seasons. They haven’t won a playoff game since their sixth Super Bowl.
The Dallas Cowboys and 49ers now each have five. San Francisco still has a strong core to compete for a sixth title next season. The Cowboys haven’t proven they can win in the postseason. The Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and now the Chiefs have four. Given Kansas City’s dynasty, an incredible feat in such a competitive era of football, they may have the best chance to get to seven. Or at least tie the Steelers with six.