When is the last time the 49ers went to a Super Bowl? History of San Francisco’s big game appearances

The NFL season has nearly reached its full conclusion with just the AFC and NFC championship games left to be played before the winners meet in Super Bowl 58.

Among the four teams left standing, the Lions are newcomers, while the Chiefs, Ravens, and 49ers are relative veterans of the process. While San Francisco hasn’t been to six straight conference championship games like the Chiefs, Sunday’s showdown with Detroit marks its third straight appearance and fourth in the past five seasons.

Here’s a look into the history of the 49ers’ history of Super Bowl appearances and the last time they appeared in the game before an NFC champion is crowned this week.

MORE: NFL Power Rankings | Lions-49ers pick

49ers Super Bowl history

When was the last time the 49ers went to a Super Bowl?

The last time the 49ers went to the Super Bowl was during the 2019 season, when they fell 31-20 to the Chiefs. Obviously, depending on the outcome of the two championship games, they’ll have a chance at a rematch with Kansas City.

Standout quarterback Patrick Mahomes was one of the biggest storylines of the game, as San Francisco failed to stave off a Chiefs’ rally that included 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. It took less than half for Mahomes to do that level of damage, as the 49ers’ 20-10 lead slipped away in a hurry.

In actuality, a rematch is in store regardless of who wins the AFC championship as long as San Francisco takes care of business in the NFC. This is because the second-to-last time the 49ers were in the Super Bowl was during the 2012 season when they lost to the Ravens, 34-31.

It has been roughly three decades since the 49ers won the Super Bowl, the last time coming in the 1994 season when they defeated the then-San Diego Chargers, 49-26 in Super Bowl 29.

MORE: How many Super Bowls have the 49ers won?

49ers Super Bowl appearances

The 49ers have appeared in seven Super Bowls (1981, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1994, 2012, and 2019), winning five times. Their most recent victory was a 49-26 win over the Chargers in 1994. 

Below are all of their appearances in the big game over the years.

Season Super Bowl opponent Result Regular-season record Head coach
1981 Bengals W, 26-21 13-3 Bill Walsh
1984 Dolphins W, 38-16 15-1 Bill Walsh
1988 Bengals W, 20-16 10-6 Bill Walsh
1989 Broncos W, 55-10 14-2 George Seifert
1994 Chargers W, 49-26 13-3 George Seifert
2012 Ravens L, 34-31 11-4-1 Jim Harbaugh
2019 Chiefs L 31-20 13-3 Kyle Shanahan

Though the 49ers most recently suffered losses in the Super Bowl, they have the chance to right the ship as long as they can make it past the Lions.

Most Super Bowl appearances

The 49ers are one of the NFL’s most successful teams in history where Super Bowl appearances are concerned, making it a total of seven times, good for fifth-most.

The Steelers, Cowboys, and Broncos hold a three-way tie at a total of eight appearances. 

All rank behind the success of the Patriots, who still hold the record for most Super Bowl appearances by a relatively comfortable margin with a total of 11 trips to the big game. 

Team Appearances Record Most recent appearance
Patriots 11 6-5 2018
Steelers 8 6-2 2011
Cowboys 8 5-3 1996
Broncos 8 3-5 2015
49ers 7 5-2 2020
Packers 5 4-1 2011
Giants 5 4-1 2012
Raiders 3 3-2 2003
Washington 5 3-2 1992
Chiefs 5 3-2 2023

Longest Super Bowl appearance drought

The 49ers don’t fall under the category of teams with a significantly long drought of appearances in the Super Bowl, especially considering they were just at the Super Bowl in the 2019 season.

It should be noted, though, that it has been 29 years since the 49ers have won the Super Bowl.

That’s far from the longest Super Bowl victory drought, though. Moreover, the longest Super Bowl appearance drought is a list San Francisco doesn’t have to worry about being part of for quite some time. Four teams — Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville, and Cleveland — have never been to the Super Bowl, and the Jets (55 years) have gone the longest since making it back to the big game. Minnesota (47), Miami (39), Washington (32), and Buffalo (30) round out the top five.

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