SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The penthouse and outhouse are never very far apart in the NFL. A few bad decisions on the personnel or coaching fronts can kill a blooming dynasty too soon or, in some cases, before it ever really gets started.
It's something to which the San Francisco 49ers can attest. It hasn't even been four full years since the 49ers played in Super Bowl XLVII. And while it's normal for teams with a lot of success to experience commensurate roster turnover, few have had to deal with the changes the Niners have, especially in terms of players opting to leave the game altogether.
Following the release of defensive tackle Ian Williams with an injury settlement Thursday, the 1-6 Niners have just nine players remaining who were on the roster at the end of that NFC championship season. Of those nine, five are starters, with linebacker NaVorro Bowman on injured reserve because of a torn Achilles. Only strength-and-conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama remains from then-coach Jim Harbaugh's staff. Only three players who started in that Super Bowl are still on the roster, though two others since have moved into the starting lineup.
Big names such as running back Frank Gore, guard Mike Iupati, quarterback Alex Smith and receiver Michael Crabtree have departed via trade or free agency. Other notable names such as defensive tackle Justin Smith, linebacker Patrick Willis and offensive tackle Anthony Davis have retired (twice, in Davis' case). Linebacker Chris Borland, who was drafted in 2014, also retired after a promising rookie season.
To be sure, the Niners aren't the only team to have success and then major roster turnover. The Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco's opponent in that game Feb. 3, 2013, have undergone a similar makeover but in far more traditional ways. They've also kept their primary decision-makers and coaching staff in place.
Here's a look at the nine players remaining on the roster from that Super Bowl team:
QB Colin Kaepernick: He got his starting job back before the Week 6 loss at Buffalo, but his fall from stardom has, in many ways, mirrored the Niners' fall from the top of the NFC. Although San Francisco lost that Super Bowl, Kaepernick had a huge game and looked to just be scratching the surface of his potential. In the years since, Kaepernick has been ineffective as a pocket passer and plagued by a variety of injuries. Playing under a reworked contract, there's a real possibility Kaepernick is in his final season with the team.
CB Tramaine Brock: Brock didn't start a game for the Super Bowl Niners but he moved into the lineup for seven games in 2013. He's since become a staple of the defense, starting 15 games last season and the first seven games of this one. Brock has had his ups and downs but has mostly been a solid, if unspectacular, piece of the defense.
LB NaVorro Bowman: The heart and soul of the defense and the franchise as a whole, Bowman's time since the Super Bowl has been largely spent rehabilitating from injuries. He signed a lucrative contract extension before the start of this season, then suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. Bowman undoubtedly will work to come back, but it's fair to wonder if he can return to his All-Pro form.
LB Ahmad Brooks: Brooks has remained in the starting lineup, missing a few games here and there, but he is one of the few remaining players who has mostly stayed in his place since the Super Bowl. Brooks has started all seven games this season and has 2.5 sacks.
LB Michael Wilhoite: Wilhoite has been one of the Niners' primary reserves since the Super Bowl and has received no shortage of playing time in light of the injuries and retirements the team has had at his position. Wilhoite again has stepped into the starting lineup this season after injuries to Bowman and Ray-Ray Armstrong, but his struggles led to the Niners switching to Gerald Hodges before the Week 7 game against Tampa Bay.
DT Tony Jerod-Eddie: Jerod-Eddie remains in the same role, carving out a spot as a reserve on the defensive line.
C Daniel Kilgore: Kilgore has since moved into the starting lineup and is a solid, intelligent pivot on the offensive line. The Niners missed him dearly after he suffered a serious leg/ankle injury that cost him big chunks of the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
OT Joe Staley: As with Bowman on the defense, Staley has been one of the focal points of the offense, surviving the attrition surrounding him and continuing as one of the league's best tackles. Trade rumors involving Staley have popped up recently and it would seem reasonable a move could be made given the Niners' struggles and the possibility for Staley to win elsewhere. But the Niners clearly aren't flush with talent, and the return would have to be big to part ways with Staley.
TE Garrett Celek: Celek has remained a steady backup after earning a roster spot in 2012. The Niners signed him to a contract extension last year after he started half of their games and finished with career highs in receptions and yards.