| 1st NFC West|
| Won Divisional Playoff (Vikings) 38–22
Lost NFC Championship Game (Packers) 23–10|
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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. This season marked their last appearance in the NFC title game until the 2011 season. The team's playoff run was ended by the Green Bay Packers for the third straight year.
1997 San Francisco 49ers season Wikipedia
Opening the 1997 season with new coach Steve Mariucci and halfback 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, 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 retirement.
Young eventually came back, as did Rice for 1 1⁄2 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.
Toward the end of the season, things appeared to be going well for the team's postseason prospects. However, in the second to last game of the season, 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).
The 49ers and Packers meet for the 3rd year in a row in the playoffs, and for the 3rd year in a row, the Packers defeat the 49ers. The 49ers were battling multiple injuries in the game, including missing star wide receiver Jerry Rice. The lack of depth on offense showed throughout the game, as the offense generated just 3 points. The only touchdown of the game for the 49ers was when Chuck Levy returned a 95-yard kick off return for a touchdown. But by then, the Packers had a commanding 23-10 lead in the 4th quarter. With the loss, the 49ers finish the year at 14-4.Steve Young, Led NFL, Passer Rating, 104.7 Rating