Last weekend, former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders took some time to answer questions on Twitter. At one point, he was asked the best team he played on during his NFL career. Given his extensive time with the Dallas Cowboys, some might have thought one of those teams would be the answer. Nope! It was the 1994 San Francisco 49ers!
After back-to-back Super Bowls to close out the 80s, the 49ers struggled to get over the hump against the Dallas Cowboys in the early 90s. After losing to the New York Giants in the 1991 NFC title game, the 49ers missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record in the following 1991 regular season, and then lost to the Cowboys in the NFC title game in consecutive seasons.
In the offseason following the 1993 season, Eddie DeBartolo did not mess around. The team signed linebackers Gary Plummer, Ken Norton Jr., and Rickey Jackson to give the team a historic level of depth at the position. But adding Deion Sanders will go down as the big signing. In reality, they were all critical signings, but given the way the 49ers paid out that offseason, it will always be remembered for the Deion signing.
The 49ers that season were stacked in virtually every phase of the game. They ranked No. 1 in scoring offense, and No. 6 in scoring defense. The secondary included Sanders, Eric Davis, Merton Hanks and Tim McDonald. The defensive line included Dana Stubblefield (8.5 sacks) and a rookie Bryant Young (6.0 sacks). That rookie class included BY, linebacker Lee Woodall, and fullback William Floyd.
On offense, running back Ricky Watters only had 877 rushing yards, be he added in 719 receiving yards as a huge threat out of the backfield. Jerry Rice was at the peak of his powers, and had Brent Jones and John Taylor contributing as well. And of course, Steve Young was in the zone that season.
And of course, you can go into the coaching staff to see just how ridiculous it was. George Seifert was in charge, but his staff included offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan, quarterbacks coach Gary Kubiak, offensive line coach Bobb McKittrick and defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes.
There was nothing not to like about that team. I think people who remember those 80s teams a bit better will have plenty to argue about which 49ers team was the best, but this one was sure a lot of fun to watch.
Chris Biderman found this great video for his own article on Primetime’s tweet. It’s almost six minutes of discussion about Deion’s time in San Francisco.