49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

October 25, 2008
Ranking the NFL uniforms 1-32

The 49ers are set to break out their throwback unis Sunday against Seattle. I've made no secret of my admiration for these threads. To me, they are distinctly San Francisco and hearken to the days when the 49ers were, you know, good. I did an impromptu locker-room poll this week - 15 or so players - and each preferred the throwbacks over the every-day uniforms. If the 49ers went with their throwbacks permanently, they would be Top 5 in the league in my book. As it stands now, I'd put the Niners unis somewhere in the middle of the pack. Here's the ranking from best to worst:

  1. Colts. The horseshoe is as simple and enduring as the blue and white color scheme. Note to teams considering a redesign: Come up with half a dozen design elements and then drop five.

  2. Raiders. Football is an aggressive game and the Raiders' threads smack of aggression. North Korea's Red Guard army said to be considering switch from red berets to Raiders caps.

  3. Bears. The "C" on the helmet stands for "classic." The Minute Maid-inspired alternative jerseys, however, have to go.

  4. Giants. Usually three or more colors are a disaster. The Giants, however, make it work. Their red jerseys are particularly smashing.

  5. Browns. Imagine the owner of an expansion franchise holding a press conference and announcing that his new club's main color will be brown and that the team will be know as the Browns? Bold ... and beautiful.

  6. Cowboys. The only think more presumptuous than a star on your helmet would be loaves and fishes. Still, the Cowboys own the logo. As much as it pains me to say it, the Cowboys' duds still will be fresh in 2079 when Jessica's great grandkids are making crappy music.

  7. Steelers. NFL 101: Black + one other color makes for an excellent combination so long as that one other color isn't purple. (See: Ravens, Baltimore).

  8. Saints. The team's emblem, the Fleur-de-lis, translates roughly to "lily flower." It comes from "France," which translates roughly to "lily flower."

  9. Chargers. The powder blue and yellow combo is a little light in the loafers, but it works for sunny San Diego. The "Bolt" logo is solid, and the move to a white helmet really makes it pop.

  10. Jets. Good choice, Jets - always go with the uniform in which your franchise had its proudest moment. (And burn anything associated with Rick Kotite).

  11. Packers. Imagine the owner of an expansion franchise holding a press conference and announcing that his new team's main color will be yellow and that the team will be known as the Packers...

  12. Seahawks. Unis perfectly capture the city, from the Northwest tribal art-inspired logo to the "looks like rain" color scheme. Ok, the Mr. Yuck neon has to go.

  13. Redskins. Darken the burgundy and lose the broad helmet stripes and you have a Top 5er, Mr. Snyder. Oh, and you might want to do something about the patently offensive mascot. It's 2008.

  14. 49ers. One of the classic teams should have one of the classic uniforms. The 49ers found their glory in the early 1980s; they'll find their true uniforms there, too.

  15. Lions. The Rorschach lion resembles a coat of arms and thus connotes history and nobility. But how is it that the most blue collar of Midwestern cities has "Honolulu blue" as its dominant color?

  16. Eagles. Eagles recently changed to a more menacing green. Yeah, that's what the city of Philadelphia needs - to be more aggressive.

  17. Dolphins. A colorful uniform for a colorful city. I guess aqua and orange is better than mesh tank tops.

  18. Chiefs. In 1963, a proud franchise chose red and yellow as its color scheme. That franchise? McDonald's.

  19. Texans. Sure the logo is a rip off of the University of Texas', and Houston is to cattle ranching what the Arkansas River is to yachting. (Maybe an Enron "E" would have been more appropriate.) Still, the scheme is tasteful, though the logo would look better on a white helmet.

  20. Jaguars. Maybe you should highlight your numbers with a fourth color. We can't quite see them from Sarasota. Teal is for ducks.

  21. Falcons. You had it right in 1990 when you went to the black-and-white theme. The red striped epaulettes look like something hanging in the closet at Neverland Ranch.

  22. Broncos. Better color scheme than the Craig Morton-era duds. But the swatch of color up and down the side of the uniform - the armpit orange - is a fad that won't last.

  23. Titans. I like the blue on blue concept, but the logo looks like some 7th grader's dreamy doodle in sixth-period pre-Algebra. The old Oilers symbol was far superior.

  24. Rams. Perhaps the coolest helmet design of all. But you lost me when you went from old-school yellow and blue to glittery gold. Who did the re-design, Liza Minelli? The team should go back to the cream and blue of the early 1970s.

  25. Cardinals. Why? You had one of the cleanest and simplest unis in the league and an ornithologically correct northern cardinal (Cardinalis, cardinalis) to boot. Then you went all Arena League 2 on me. P.S.: Cardinals aren't native to Arizona.

  26. Vikings. The Vikes fell into same trap as the Cardinals and Rams by "modernizing" what was a timeless uniform. It's like rewriting "Moby Dick" and having a kind dolphin rescue Ahab from drowning.

  27. Buccaneers. The old colors weren't imposing, so the team went to ... pewter? That sounds like an option in a J.Crew catalogue. Hi, I'd like to order the slim-fit chinos in rustic wheat and the merino wool sweater in Buccaneer pewter.

  28. Panthers. Carolina boo. Too much tinsel on that Christmas tree.

  29. Bills. Wow, what a contrast between their throwbacks, which are awesome, and their regular unis, which look like jammies. Buffalo Sabres logo is better

  30. Bengals. You have a freakin' tiger as your mascot and this is the most imposing design you can come up with? It looks like a bad combover.

  31. Patriots. Like Uncle Sam threw up all over these uniforms. Hey, Boston - the USFL called. They want their uniforms back.

  32. Ravens. Purple and black? You look like bruises. And that "scary" Raven looks like an October display at Target. The uniforms also have a "B" (for busy?) as well as the Maryland state flag, giving them an over-the-hill-hooker-with-too-much-makeup-and-plastic-jewelry look. Baltimore was shooting for Poe but should have gone with Thoreau: Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Where's the Q&A? Good question. When the redesign occurred, it wiped the Q&A portion away (from a page that is called "49ers Blog and Q&A"!?!). Anyway, we're figuring out the best alternative. Any suggestions or complaints about the uniform ranking? Please feel free to use the Q&A portion of this blog ...

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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