As Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco 49ers from its acquisition until 1997, Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr. saw his primary role as one of
provid-ing emotional and financial support for the players and coaches. Under his leadership the San Francisco 49ers earned the moniker "Team of the 80s" after claiming four Super Bowl titles during that decade. They extended their dominance into the 90s, becoming only NFL team to produce 10-or-more wins for 16 consecutive seasons (1983-98). Since 1981, the San Francisco 49ers have won 13 division titles, five conference championships and five Super Bowl championships (the first franchise in NFL history to win five), claiming the world title in 1981 (Super Bowl XVI), '84 (Super Bowl XIX), '88 (Super Bowl XXIII), '89 (Super Bowl XXIV) and '94 (Super Bowl XXIX).
San Francisco has posted at least 10 wins seventeen times in each of the last 20 seasons.
San Francisco opened its sixth decade in the NFL under new leadership. The transfer of ownership from Edward DeBartolo, Jr. to his sister Denise DeBartolo York was approved by the NFL May 23, 2000. DeBartolo, Jr. ended his tenure after guiding the San Francisco 49ers to five Super Bowl Championships and 16 postseason appearances.
In 2002, the San Francisco 49ers entered 2002 with hopes of advancing past the first round of the NFC playoffs. The team accomplished the mission finishing the season with 10 wins and advancing to the NFC Divisional Playoff in grand fashion with the second largest playoff comeback in NFL history. The San Francisco 49ers finished the season with a 5-1 division record and won their first division title since 1997.
Head Coach Steve Mariucci is released from the final year of his contract on January 15, 2003. The San Francisco 49ers conducted a nation-wide search for Mariucci’s successor and in the end hired Dennis Erickson. Erickson was introduced as the San Francisco 49ers 14th head coach in team history on February 12, 2003.