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San Francisco 49ers
Title track: T39
Fan relations: 115
Stadium experience: 93
Bang for the buck: 52
Change from last year: -76
The 49ers are a franchise steeped in history, tradition and championships ... even if they haven't won a Super Bowl in two-plus decades. There is a standard to live up to in the Bay Area, and with so many player arrests over the past five years, the opening of $1.3 billion Levi's Stadium some 38 miles south of Candlestick Park in Santa Clara and the "mutual parting" with a popular coach in Jim Harbaugh, fans are starting to look sideways at the, ahem, Santa Clara Niners. No wonder their 76-point fall from last year is the biggest of any team in the standings.
The Niners tied for 39th in title track, 13 slots better than their next-best category (bang for the buck) and one of only two categories in which they rank in the top half of all franchises. And they do have a gleaming palace of a stadium ... even if they are having problems growing grass in it and reports are surfacing that airline pilots at the nearby San Jose airport are complaining about the lights. But there is no doubt that fans venturing to the South Bay are in the home of the Niners, with a sweet team museum and all the bells and whistles that come with the park, which, by the way, will host Super Bowl 50 in February. And, despite last year's disappointing .500 season, fans still have seen 44 wins in the past four seasons -- and a Super Bowl appearance. Despite the high costs and all the dysfunction, that many wins is still good for a top-half score in bang for the buck (52nd).
Well, we already mentioned that the 49ers' 76-point fall in the standings is by far the biggest drop of any team. It starts with ownership, then goes to coaching, fan relations and affordability -- all of which rank 112th or lower. Among NFL teams, only the Bears (No. 113), Jets (No. 114) and Redskins (No. 116) rank worse in affordability than the Niners. The average ticket price is a staggering $117 (more than $30 over the NFL average and cheaper than only the Patriots). Maybe that's making up for all those bills the Niners have to pay for Levi's Stadium, but it's apparently not worth it to fans: Even with all the bells and whistles, stadium experience ranks just 93rd. (The hotter temperatures in Santa Clara certainly don't help.)
Every single category saw at least a double-digit drop for the Niners, with Harbaugh's departure dropping the team more than 100 places in coaching -- from eighth last year to 115th. It really was an offseason from hell for the Niners, who lost so many players to either retirement (DT Justin Smith, LBs Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, RT Anthony Davis), free agency (RB Frank Gore, WR Michael Crabtree, CBs Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox, LG Mike Lupati) or legal issues (LB Aldon Smith, who was cut after his fifth arrest since 2011) -- leading to a 68-place free fall in that category. General manager Trent Baalke insists this is a reload situation, rather than a rebuild, and with a fairly young nucleus of core players, all does not appear to be lost. But with ownership checking in at just No. 113 (down 77 places, the 49ers' second-biggest drop), fans might be losing patience with CEO Jed York and rookie coach Jim Tomsula, fair or not.