Like the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers uniform history starts in 1946 and it’s another one of the few histories I’ll start with prior to 1960, simply due to the availability of photo images online instead of having to describe some wacky and I mean wacky, uniforms prior to the use of plastic-clad helmets.
The 49ers were one such team so for all intents and purposes of this article, we will begin in the 1940s.
The 49ers debuted in the AAFC featuring white leather helmets, cherry red plain jerseys with white block numbering, white pants with a single vertical red stripe, solid red socks, and black shoes. The road uniform consisted of a white jersey, red numbering, Northwestern stripes at the sleeves, white pants with the vertical red stripe, and either solid white socks or socks bearing the red Northwestern stripes.
Gold emerged as a team color on the helmet and pants, both of which replaced the white in all but one game.
Silver replaced gold.
White jerseys dropped, replaced with a new red jersey bearing three horizontal sleeve stripes which also consisted of socks bearing the same striping pattern. Red leather helmets appeared for a game.
Leather helmets replaced with plastic. Also, the plain red jerseys the team used since its inception were dropped in favor of the new striped jerseys that debuted the year prior.
The 49ers wore the silver helmets all regular season long.
The team ditched the silver pants, opting instead for white. Helmet shells were now red bearing a silver helmet stripe.
New numbering font bearing black shadow drop. The white pants now bore a red-black-red striping pattern and silver pants returned with the same striping pattern.
The team returned to plain, white helmets. Also, the team ditched silver pants, opting for white with vertical red striping.
Gold helmet shells appear. White jerseys return this season as the NFL began to mandate for one team to wear light while the other wore dark as TV increased in popularity. These uniforms greatly resembled the current uniform, simply without helmet markings or pants striping. The socks on the home look were red with white stripes and the road socks were white, bearing gold and red striping.
The road jersey now contained red shoulder striping and solid red socks appeared on the road uniform. TV numbers added to the jersey sleeves.
Silver replaces gold on the helmets and pants. A second vertical stripe is added to the shoulders.
Northwestern striping added to the helmet crown.
The familiar ‘SF’ logo is added to the helmet and the helmet striping becomes its familiar red-white-red combo.
NOB plates added.
Team switches to white shoes.
Pants striping significantly widened.
40th-anniversary patches worn on the hip.
Solid red socks introduced.
Major uniform shift.
Helmet logo darkened and black outlining was also added. The helmet striping consisted of a black-red-black pattern, along with dark red facemasks.
The cherry red jersey was now darkened, consisting of white numbering and black drop shadow. Triple stripes returned to the sleeve, which bore a darkened version of the helmet logo. TV numbers migrated to the shoulder.
The white jersey consisted of dark red numbering and white drop shadow, three horizontal sleeve stripes, dark red TV numbers, along with the helmet logo embedded within the striping. Socks were solid red.
Pants were white with black-red-black striping, and the team bore a 50th-anniversary logo patch.
Gold pants were added once more, consisting of a black-gold-red-gold-black striping pattern with the team logo embedded within.
1964-1987 throwbacks return for a Week 12 contest against the Eagles.
Throwbacks return for a Week 8 contest against Tampa Bay.
60th-anniversary patches and throwbacks become a regular alternate uniform.
Black shoes return.
Return of the 1964-1987 uniform with two exceptions – The outlines from the 1996-2008 logo remained, and the TV numbers remained on the shoulders. Also, the sleeve striping was now diagonal. Here’s the road look.
Some players opted to wear team color shoes.
The ill-fated black alternate jerseys featuring red numbering and striping debut along with black pants and red striping.
70th-anniversary patches plus black socks added to the all-black uniform, which became the team’s original Color Rush.
A new, all-white Color Rush debuts, featuring white, throwback jerseys featuring the red numbering and black drop shadow. White pants with a red-black-red striping pattern was also included on the look. Team reverts back to white shoes.
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