The early part of the 1991 season was marred by close losses: The 49ers lost six of their first 10 games by a total of only 26 points.
But big losses had hit the team even earlier: Joe Montana missed the season with an injured elbow. Roger Craig and Ronnie Lott left as Plan B free agents.
Steve Young won the NFC passing title, but he went out with an knee injury in the 49ers' ninth game, when the team was only 4-5 despite his stellar statistics. Steve Bono rallied the 49ers to five straight victories, then Young returned in a season-finale 52-14 thrashing of the Chicago Bears.
Despite a strong finish in 1991, the 49ers missed the playoffs for the first time since 1982. The Niners finished in third place in the NFC West.