This really has nothing to do with the San Francisco 49ers or the NFL for that matter, but I got a huge kick out of it, and since I'm the video game guy, I figured I'd share the genius.
The other day while work was slow, I went to our sister site Polygon and came across a story concerning Mario Football. The game is just a mock with 3D renders (I doubt there's any code for inputs at all), but it's still worth a look. Here's a direct link to the image gallery. We all know my feelings towards Madden, but I quickly suppressed any bad taste I had for the series and immediately wondered if there was a shred of hope this could be in development.
Well, it isn't. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they got a letter from Nintendo about copyright violation (yes even for these few 3D renders). This is the same company that on The Legend of Zelda's 30th anniversary, went to take down a free webgame that recreated the Nintendo Entertainment System original in 3D sprites. I don't really fault them for doing this (it's their IP and they don't want someone to screw it up and give them a bad name), but they are like hawks finding and shutting down these things.
Even at at my age, I still love me some Mario. I have to be in the right mood to play a Mario game, but there's no denying that those games are just flat fun (yes, even the much maligned and inferior Mario Sunshine). For my generation, Mario is much like Mickey Mouse was to my parents, a link between generations that we can share and identify with each other because of it. The sports titles are simple enough for everyone to enjoy but always have a sort of depth and complexity that lets hardcore fans really find their groove in a competitive atmosphere.
For that reason, do I see Nintendo making a Mario gridiron football game? No. Gridiron football's main audience is in America, with rules varying drastically from country to country where it's played. It's not as universal as say, golf. In many countries, it's gaining massive popularity, but it's simply not there yet, or at least not in the realm of tennis, soccer, or golf which has a almost worldwide, universal rules sheet and fan base (for comparison, look at the differences between NFL and Canadian football). Also gridiron football titles sell poorly in many parts of the world, especially Japan, where most Mario games are developed, so there isn't much of a market to build on (FUN FACT: Square-Enix actually published Madden back in the early 2000s for the Japanese market, no it didn't sell well at all).
While Nintendo has let their characters be licensed out to other developers (Mario Party is a great example), I just don't see this ever happening beyond these screenshots. But a guy can dream.
It'd give Madden a run for its money. That's for sure.