|2011 San Francisco 49ers season|
|Head coach||Jim Harbaugh|
|General manager||Trent Baalke|
|Home field||Candlestick Park|
|Division place||1st NFC West|
|Playoff finish||Won Divisional Playoffs (vs. Saints) 36-32 |
Lost NFC Championship (vs. Giants) 17-20 (OT)
|Pro Bowlers||RB Frank Gore |
OT Joe Staley
DE Justin Smith
ILB Patrick Willis
CB Carlos Rogers
FS Dashon Goldson
P Andy Lee
K David Akers
LS Brian Jennings
|AP All-Pros||Patrick Willis (1st team)|
NaVorro Bowman (1st team)
Justin Smith (1st & 2nd team)
David Akers (1st team)
Andy Lee (1st team)
Carlos Rogers (2nd team)
The 2011 San Francisco 49ers season was the franchise's 66th season overall, and 62nd in the National Football League (NFL). It was the first season under head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke. The 49ers rebounded from their disappointing 2010 season to end their streak of eight consecutive non-winning seasons. After defeating the St. Louis Rams in week 13 and attaining a 10-2 record, the team clinched the NFC West and made their first playoff appearance since 2002. The 49ers ended the regular season with a 13-3 record, their best since 1997, and earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs. In the Divisional Playoffs they defeated the New Orleans Saints 36-32 and were in the NFC Championship for the first time since 1997 where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in overtime by a score of 20-17, coming just short of returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1994. Despite their most successful season in years, the 49ers were 31st in the league in third-down conversion percentage in the regular season (29.1) and were 17.9 percent in the playoffs.
Owner Jed York announced that he would hire a general manager and the new GM would make a decision on the new head coach to replace Mike Singletary after the 49ers' loss to the St. Louis Rams on December 26, 2010 that eliminated the team from the postseason. On January 5, the 49ers promoted the vice president of player personnel, Trent Baalke, to the position of general manager. On January 7, the 49ers hired Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh to be the 18th head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
With the hiring of a new head coach, many of the assistant coaches were replaced. Of the coordinators and position coaches from the previous season, only running backs coach Tom Rathman, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, and offensive line coach Mike Solari were retained. The coaching staff featured Greg Roman as the new offensive coordinator and Vic Fangio as the new defensive coordinator, both previously assistant coaches under Harbaugh at Stanford. Former Cleveland Browns assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Brad Seely was hired for the same roles with the 49ers. Geep Chryst was the new quarterbacks coach, Reggie Davis was the new tight ends coach. John Morton was the new wide receivers coach, and Tim Drevno was a new offensive line coach to help out Mike Solari. Jim Leavitt was the new linebackers coach and Ed Donatell was the new secondary coach. The staff also featured defensive assistants Peter Hansen and Ehiro Evero, offensive assistant Bobby Engram, and special assistant to the head coach Bill Nayes.
|Position||Player||Tag||2011 Team||Notes and references|
|C/G||David Baas||UFA||New York Giants|
|C||Tony Wragge||UFA||St. Louis Rams|
|G/T||Chris Patrick||ERFA||Edmonton Eskimos|
|T||Barry Sims||UFA||Free Agent|
|QB||Alex Smith||UFA||San Francisco 49ers|
|QB||Troy Smith||UFA||Omaha Nighthawks|
|RB||Brian Westbrook||UFA||Free Agent|
|DE||Demetric Evans||UFA||Free Agent|
|DE||Ray McDonald||UFA||San Francisco 49ers|
|DE/LB||Travis LaBoy||UFA||San Diego Chargers|
|NT||Aubrayo Franklin||UFA||New Orleans Saints|
|LB||Manny Lawson||UFA||Cincinnati Bengals|
|LB||Takeo Spikes||UFA||San Diego Chargers|
|S||Dashon Goldson||UFA||San Francisco 49ers|
|S||C. J. Spillman||ERFA||San Francisco 49ers|
|K||Jeff Reed||UFA||Seattle Seahawks|
|Player re-signed by the 49ers|
|Draft order||Player name||Position||Height||Weight||College||Contract||Notes|
|1||7||7||Aldon Smith||DE||6'4"||263 lbs.||Missouri|
|2||4||36||Colin Kaepernick||QB||6'4"||233 lbs.||Nevada||[e]|
|3||12||80||Chris Culliver||CB||6'1"||201 lbs.||South Carolina||[f]|
|4||11||108||Traded to the Denver Broncos [e]|
|4||18||115||Kendall Hunter||RB||5'8"||190 lbs.||Oklahoma State||[a]|
|5||10||141||Traded to the Denver Broncos [e]|
|5||32||163||Daniel Kilgore||G||6'3"||308 lbs.||Appalachian State||[g]|
|6||9||174||Traded to the Green Bay Packers[g]|
|6||17||182||Ronald Johnson||WR||6'1"||190 lbs.||University of Southern California||[f]|
|6||25||190||Colin Jones||S||5'11"||200 lbs.||Texas Christian University||[b]|
|7||8||211||Bruce Miller||DE||6'1"||254 lbs.||University of Central Florida|
|7||28||231||Traded to the Green Bay Packers[c][g]|
|7||36||239||Mike Person||OT||6'4"||299 lbs.||Montana State||[d]|
|7||47||250||Curtis Holcomb||CB||5'10"||184 lbs.||Florida A&M||[d]|
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards was released after nine games.
|1||August 12||at New Orleans Saints||L 3-24||0-1||Louisiana Superdome||Recap|
|2||August 20||Oakland Raiders *||W 17-3||1-1||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|3||August 27||Houston Texans||L 7-30||1-2||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|4||September 1||at San Diego Chargers||W 20-17||2-2||Qualcomm Stadium||Recap|
|1||September 11||Seattle Seahawks||W 33-17||1-0||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|2||September 18||Dallas Cowboys||L 24-27 (OT)||1-1||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|3||September 25||at Cincinnati Bengals||W 13-8||2-1||Paul Brown Stadium||Recap|
|4||October 2||at Philadelphia Eagles||W 24-23||3-1||Lincoln Financial Field||Recap|
|5||October 9||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||W 48-3||4-1||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|6||October 16||at Detroit Lions||W 25-19||5-1||Ford Field||Recap|
|8||October 30||Cleveland Browns||W 20-10||6-1||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|9||November 6||at Washington Redskins||W 19-11||7-1||FedExField||Recap|
|10||November 13||New York Giants||W 27-20||8-1||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|11||November 20||Arizona Cardinals||W 23-7||9-1||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|12||November 24||at Baltimore Ravens||L 6-16||9-2||M&T Bank Stadium||Recap|
|13||December 4||St. Louis Rams||W 26-0||10-2||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|14||December 11||at Arizona Cardinals||L 19-21||10-3||University of Phoenix Stadium||Recap|
|15||December 19||Pittsburgh Steelers||W 20-3||11-3||Candlestick Park||Recap|
|16||December 24||at Seattle Seahawks||W 19-17||12-3||CenturyLink Field||Recap|
|17||January 1||at St. Louis Rams||W 34-27||13-3||Edward Jones Dome||Recap|
With the win, the 49ers started the season 1-0.
With the loss, the 49ers fell to 1-1.
With the win, the 49ers improved to 2-1.
With the comeback win, the 49ers improved to 3-1.
With the win, the 49ers improved to 4-1.
With the win, the 49ers went into their bye week at 5-1.
With the win, the 49ers improved to 6-1.
With the win, the 49ers improved to 7-1.
With the win, the 49ers improved to 8-1.
With this win, the 49ers improve their record to 9-1, securing them their first winning season since 2002.
Coming off their divisional home win over the Cardinals, head coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers flew to M&T Bank Stadium for a Week 12 interconference duel with the Baltimore Ravens and their head coach (Jim's brother) John Harbaugh on Thanksgiving.
San Francisco trailed early in the first quarter as Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff got a 39-yard field goal, yet the 49ers answered with a 45-yard field goal from kicker David Akers. Baltimore struck back in the second quarter with Cundiff making a 23-yard field goal.
San Francisco began the third quarter with a 52-yard field goal from Akers, but the Ravens opened the fourth quarter with quarterback Joe Flacco completing an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dennis Pitta, followed by Cundiff nailing a 39-yard field goal. The Niners tried to rally, but Baltimore's defense held on to preserve the win.
With the loss, the 49ers fell to 9-2.
These two teams would meet again a year later in Super Bowl XLVII with the 49ers falling short 34-31.
With the shutout win, not only did the 49ers improve to 10-2, but they also clinched 1st place in the NFC West.
With the loss, the 49ers fell to 10-3.
The 49ers traveled home for a game on Monday Night Football against the Steelers. It was delayed due to a power outage in their stadium. The lights went off again in the 2nd quarter when the 49ers were leading 6-0, which eventually became the score at halftime. In the 2nd half the 49ers would go on a 14 to 3 run to make the final score 20-3 and improve their record to 11-3.
With the win, the 49ers improved to 12-3 and swept the Seahawks for the first time since 2006.
With the win, the 49ers finished their season at 13-3 as they swept the Rams for the first time since 2009 and captured the NFC's #2 playoff seed.
|(2) San Francisco 49ers||13||3||0||.813||5-1||10-2||380||229||W3|
|St. Louis Rams||2||14||0||.125||0-6||1-11||193||407||L7|
|Playoff round||Date||Kickoff||Opponent (seed)||Results||Game site||TV||NFL.com|
|Final score||Team record|
|Wild Card||First-round bye|
|Divisional||January 14, 2012||1:30 p.m. PST||New Orleans Saints (3)||W 36-32||1-0||Candlestick Park||Fox||Recap|
|NFC Championship||January 22, 2012||3:30 p.m. PST||New York Giants (4)||L 17-20||1-1||Candlestick Park||Fox||Recap|
Alex Smith's 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis with 9 seconds left gave San Francisco their first playoff win since 2002 at the end of a wild, back and forth final quarter which featured four lead changes in a span of 3:53. Sports writers and 49ers fans have taken to referring Davis' catch as The Catch III, as it occurred four days after the 30th anniversary of The Catch - Joe Montana's famous game-winning touchdown pass to Dwight Clark in the 1981 NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys, one of the most famous plays in San Francisco 49ers history as it helped propel the 49ers to their first-ever Super Bowl, with both plays occurring with the 49ers trailing with less than a minute to play and facing 3rd down and 3 yards to go. This game was voted the number 1 game of 2011 by NFL.com. (The Catch II refers to Steve Young's game-winning pass to Terrell Owens in the 1998 NFC Divisional Playoff against the Green Bay Packers.) With the win, the 49ers improved to 14-3 and faced the New York Giants at Candlestick Park in the NFC Championship Game.
For the fifth time in conference championship history and for the third time in five years, overtime decided the game, and as it was in the 2007 NFC Championship Game, a field goal by Lawrence Tynes was the winning score as the Giants defeated the 49ers for their fifth NFC Championship Game victory. The Giants became the third team in NFL history to advance to the Super Bowl with fewer than 10 wins during the regular season, joining the 1979 Los Angeles Rams and the 2008 Arizona Cardinals.
With Ted Ginn Jr. injured, Rookie Kyle Williams started at wide receiver and performed punt returns in the NFC Championship Game. He lost two fumbles returning punts, including one in overtime that preceded the game-winning field goal by the Giants. His other fumble in the fourth quarter was followed by a Giants' touchdown to retake the lead, 17-14. QB Alex Smith defended Williams, saying: "Offensively we weren't good enough today. We didn't get it done .... You can't put it on [Williams]". The 49ers did not make a 3rd down conversion until the 4th quarter. The 49ers' season ended with a 14-4 record.