Can the San Francisco 49ers make a return trip to the Super Bowl?
Will the San Francisco 49ers become the first Super Bowl loser since the 1993 Buffalo Bills to get back to the big game the following year, or will they fall short of back-to-back Super Bowl appearances?
In the 47-year history of the Super Bowl, there have been only seven times when the Super Bowl loser returned to the Super Bowl the following year. In fact, three of those seven times were from 1991-93 when the Bills made it to the Super Bowl in four consecutive seasons, losing each time in the championship game.
In addition to the seven repeaters in the Super Bowl, there were also four times when a Super Bowl loser made it to the conference championship game the following season. The last time this occurred was in 2012 when the 2011 New England Patriots lost to New York Giants in Super Bowl 46, then lost to the Baltimore Ravens last season in the AFC title game. In the other 22 cases, the Super Bowl loser made the playoffs the following season but were defeated in either the first or second round
Here’s a look at the 11 Super Bowl losers that made it to the Super Bowl or conference championship game the following season.
Returned to Super Bowl the season following their Super Bowl loss
1971: Dallas Cowboys (they won the Super Bowl that year after losing it the previous season)
1972: Miami Dolphins (they won the Super Bowl that year after losing it the previous season)
1974: Minnesota Vikings (lost in the Super Bowl that year as well)
1987: Denver Broncos (lost in the Super Bowl that year as well)
1991: Buffalo Bills (lost in the Super Bowl that year as well)
1992: Buffalo Bills (lost in the Super Bowl that year as well)
1993: Buffalo Bills (lost in the Super Bowl that year as well)
Lost in the conference championship game the season following their Super Bowl loss
1968: Oakland Raiders
1977: Minnesota Vikings
1985: Miami Dolphins
2012: New England Patriots
The 49ers finished this past regular season with a 12-4 record. They became the 36 Super Bowl loser to finish the following season above .500. Two Super Bowl losers finished right at .500 the year after their Super Bowl loss, while nine teams were under .500 the year after their Super Bowl defeat.
Of the 47 Super Bowl losers, 33 made the playoffs the next season while 14 missed qualifying for the post-season the following year.
Where will the 49ers finish? Can they become only the third team in league history to win the Super Bowl the year following a Super Bowl defeat? Or, might they follow the path taken by the New England Patriots and lose in the conference title game the year after a Super Bowl loss? Stay tuned!
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