Over at ESPN, the football sites have been coming up with various rankings and lists and assorted ways to pass the idle team while the NFL and NFLPA sort out the labor dispute. Their latest attempt involves something they're calling "Flash Points: Team X' defining moment." The general idea is that the writers have come up with a poll to see what people consider a key moment that significantly changed the fortune of a given franchise. Readers can vote and then the writers will give their opinion on the definitive moment.
Mike Sando has put together a write-up on some options for the "definitive moment" in 49ers history. The four moments listed (along with other) are:
1. RC Owens alley-oop catch to beat the Lions in 1957
2. Bill Walsh hired to coach the team
3. Dwight Clark makes "The Catch"
4. Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. forced out as owner
The 49ers have gone through several eras, and you could make an argument about the significance of Eddie D's departure. The team has since gone in the tank and is slowly trying to work its way out from the depths to which they had fallen. It was a significant turning point from the glory days of the 80s and mid-90s.
Of course, the downturn following the departure of Eddie D would not have been an issue if not for the hiring of Bill Walsh. "The Catch" would not have happened if it wasn't for the hiring of Bill Walsh. Really, the 49ers dynastic period began with the hiring of Bill Walsh.
I'd be curious to hear if anybody feels like arguing for any other moment in franchise history. Even the assumption of ownership by Eddie DeBartolo was not a sufficient turning point because he initially struggled to figure out how best to run the franchise. He had the money to spend and it really became a positive force once he had the coach to build around. As far as I can tell, everything comes back to the hiring of Coach Walsh.