John York

How 49ers owner York compares current team to Walsh era

Dr. John York named a Super Bowl-winning trait of the 2023 49ers.

NBC Universal, Inc.

SACRAMENTO — Dr. John York believes there are parallels between the current 49ers team and the franchise's Super Bowl-winning Bill Wash era. 

The 49ers owner came out to support defensive tackle Arik Armstead at his 2023 Kick Off for Kids Gala and spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area about what the future holds for San Francisco's defense. The expectation is that the acquisition of free agent Javon Hargrave will help coach Kyle Shanahan a great deal. 

“Lots of sacks,” York said in regards to what the 2023 season holds. “Good defense, stop the run, get to the passer. Obviously Kyle is in the bucket of offensive genius, but so was Bill Walsh.”

A quality all of the 49ers' Super Bowl-winning teams had in common with today’s team is a very stout defense, akin to the 2019 49ers when they appeared in Super Bowl LIV. On the 1981 Super Bowl-winning roster, the 49ers had not only Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott but Pro Bowl defenders in linebacker Keena Turner, cornerback Eric Wright and safety Dwight Hicks. 

In 1984, defensive end Dwaine Board led the team with 10.0 of the team’s 51 total quarterback sacks while on the field with Lott, Turner, Hicks and Pro Bowl safety Carlton Williamson. 

On the 1988 Super Bowl-winning roster, Hall of Fame pass rusher Charles Haley racked up 11.5 of the club’s 42 total sacks while on the field with Bill Romanowski and Turner. Cornerback Tim McKyer racked up seven interceptions while Lott snagged five of the team’s 22 picks.

“If you look back when we won Super Bowls with Bill as the head coach, it was always with one of the top five defenses,” York said. “We didn’t win when the defense wasn’t good. The offense is a heck of a lot better when the defense stops someone close to their own goal line and that field is a lot shorter.” 

If the 49ers' 2023 defense can play up to York's expectations, it will take pressure off of the offense. While the quarterback situation for the 49ers might not be completely certain, one thing is -- they have a minimal amount of experience under center for the 49ers.

RELATED: Willis outlines expectations for 49ers' defense in 2023

Brock Purdy has the most starts for the team with eight, while Trey Lance has four. Sam Darnold has 55 starts over his five NFL seasons but is still learning Shanahan’s offense, and veteran backup Brandon Allen has nine total starts over his four-year NFL career. 

York knows if the 4ers' defense can maintain their dominant ways, the path to the Super Bowl only becomes more clear.

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