1997 San Francisco 49ers season
|1997 San Francisco 49ers season|
|Head coach||Steve Mariucci|
|Home field||Candlestick Park|
|Division place||1st NFC West|
|Playoff finish||Won NFC Divisional Playoff (Vikings)
Lost NFC Championship (Packers)
The 1997 San Francisco 49ers season was the team's 48th year with the National Football League. The franchise appeared in the NFC Championship Game for the fifth time in the 1990s and is their last appearance in the NFC title game until the 2011 season.
The 49ers opened the 1997 season with high hopes. With new coach Steve Mariucci and half back Garrison Hearst, the 49ers seemed to have shored up their one major weakness from the season before. Also, additions Kevin Gogan to the offensive line and Rod Woodson to the defense were clear improvements over last season's roster. However, in the first game of the season at Tampa Bay the greatest disaster the 49ers could have imagined occurred: both quarterback Steve Young and receiver Jerry Rice went down with injuries. Rice appeared to be out for the season with a serious knee injury and Young, with yet another concussion, had discussed and considered retirement.
However, Young eventually came back, as did Rice for one and a half quarters (before getting another unrelated injury to his knee), and the team, with the league's number one defense leading the way, pulled together and finished strongly at 13–3.
|1||August 31, 1997||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||L 6–13||FOX 4:05et||
|2||September 7, 1997||at St. Louis Rams||W 15–12||FOX 1:00et/12:00ct||
|3||September 14, 1997||New Orleans Saints||W 33–7||FOX 4:15et/1:15pt||
|4||September 21, 1997||Atlanta Falcons||W 34–17||FOX 4:15et/1:15pt||
|5||September 29, 1997 (Mon)||at Carolina Panthers||W 34–21||ABC 9:00et||
|7||October 12, 1997||St. Louis Rams||W 30–10||FOX 4:15et/1:15pt||
|8||October 19, 1997||at Atlanta Falcons||W 35–28||FOX 1:00et||
|9||October 26, 1997||at New Orleans Saints||W 23–0||FOX 1:00et/12:00ct||
|10||November 2, 1997||Dallas Cowboys||W 17–10||FOX 4:15et/1:15pt||
|11||November 10, 1997 (Mon)||at Philadelphia Eagles||W 24–12||ABC 9:00et||
|12||November 16, 1997||Carolina Panthers||W 27–19||FOX 4:15et/1:15pt||
|13||November 23, 1997||San Diego Chargers||W 17–10||NBC 4:15et/1:15pt||
|14||November 30, 1997||at Kansas City Chiefs||L 9–44||FOX 1:00et/12:00ct||
|15||December 7, 1997||Minnesota Vikings||W 28–17||FOX 4:15et/1:15pt||
|16||December 15, 1997 (Mon)||Denver Broncos||W 34–17||ABC 9:00et/6:00pt||
|17||December 21, 1997||at Seattle Seahawks||L 9–38||ESPN 8:15et/5:15pt||
|San Francisco 49ers||13||3||0||.813||375||265|
|New Orleans Saints||6||10||0||.375||237||327|
|St. Louis Rams||5||11||0||.313||299||359|
Towards the end of the season things appeared to be going well for the 49er's postseason prospects. However, in the second to last game of the season Jerry Rice was injured again and deemed out for the playoffs. Similarly, the team's offensive heart for the season, running back Garrison Hearst, had a broken collar bone through the post season and didn't return to full health prior to the end of the season.
Despite not having either their leading receiver or their starting running back, the 49ers were able to make it to their 7th NFC championship in 10 years. However, not having an elite receiver or solid running back showed glaringly in their loss to the Packers in the conference championship (Hearst returned, but his injury was clearly still a problem as he only played a few ineffective snaps).
NFC Divisional Playoff – January 3, 1998 (Sat)
- San Francisco 49ers 38, Minnesota Vikings 22
NFC Championship Game – January 11, 1998
- Green Bay Packers 23, San Francisco 49ers 10
Awards and records
- Steve Young, Led NFL, Passer Rating, 104.7 Rating 
- NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p. 450