Meet the new old unis

Meet the new uniforms. Almost the same as the old uniforms. And for 49ers lovers far and wide, nothing could be finer than a return to the red-and-gold of the past for the Niners of the present.

The 49ers unveiled their new uniforms before a packed Santa Clara Convention Center early Saturday afternoon as part of the team's new tradition of a draft party. And it was a classic look, borrowing from the uniforms worn by the team during its heyday dynasty of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Actually, the new unis more than borrow from the old look featuring cherry-red jerseys. With a few variations, they are almost an en exact replica of the game-day wardrobe worn by the team's previous Super Bowl champions.

"The drafting of new uniforms makes a lot of sense," 49ers chief operating officer Andy Dolich said just minutes before the 2009 NFL draft began. "Simply stated – better off red."

The team showed off the new look with five sets of current and former players emerging together on the stage.

First it was Patrick Willis and Keena Turner, with the current player in full uniform and the former star wearing only his jersey.

They were followed by Josh Morgan and Jamie Williams, Dashon Goldson and Eric Davis, Joe Staley and Jesse Sapolu and Moran Norris and Tom Rathman, who has returned to the team this year for his second stint as San Francisco's running backs coach.

Each of the former San Francisco stars looked familiar in the numbers they wore when playing for the team, and each remain connected to the 49ers in some capacity, whether it be broadcasting or working in the front office.

And that's just what the 49ers are looking for as they attempt to re-connect with their winning past while making bold promises of what's going to happen in the future.

"These old players won a lot of championships in the old cherry-red jerseys," said Staley, the team's promising young left tackle. "And we're going to win a lot of championships in the new cherry-red jerseys."

The shiny red jerseys are understated with white numerals that feature no bordering, and the sleeves have three white stripes running horizontal near the bottom.

The 49ers will stick with the gold pants worn by San Francisco teams of recent seasons, but those pants will feature a streamlined stripe down each side similar to the 1980s uniforms that feature two red stripes with a white stripe running down the middle of each.

Jersey arm numbers have now been moved to the top of the shoulder instead of the side, The team's socks are solid red from the calf up, a change from the three stripes from the throwback jerseys.

The new jerseys also feature a 49ERS ligature running across the breastplate. The team also will return to wearing gray facemasks, a departure from the colored facemasks now worn by most NFLteams.

It's hard to argue with the viability of the classic look, which offers no frills and might be plain by today's NFL standards, but has an undeniable charm within its simplicity.

"The new uniforms represent the 49ers in a manner that allows us to connect with our past, but also keep an eye on our future," team president Jed York said. "Our decision to change the uniform is just another opportunity to show our fans that we are always striving to improve our team, in every way possible."

Fans in attendance roared their approval at Saturday's event, and several already were wearing the new jerseys of their favorite 49ers heroes. The new uniforms went on sale via the Internet earlier this month, and the crowd was filled with the 52 of Willis and 21 of Frank Gore, among several others.

"This was a process that was two years in the making," said Michael Williams, the 49ers' director of marketing. "This was very important to us. That's why we made the change. This is something that was asked of not only by ownership, by Jed York, but alumni, fans and current staff. This was something that was driven very hard by everyone.

"Once we got this uniform after all the changes, all the different examples and types we considered, when we showed this to everyone – to alumni, current players, ownership, fans and staff alike, everyone agreed – this is it."

And so it is for a San Francisco team that will go forward looking – on the surface at least – very much like the same team that was so successful in the past.

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