phutmasterflex

How come the 49ers used two different number fonts in 1996?

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I wrote this on my blog and I wanted to post the question here to see if anyone knows the answer: https://butattheendoftheday.com/2016/10/15/the-odd-49ers-number-font-during-the-1996-season/

 

In 1996, the 49ers got this new uniform set: 

 

49ers-Falcons-1996-007.jpg

 

But in that same season, it looked like that they used two different number fonts. It's most noticeable for the #8. Compare these two. 

 

49ers-Falcons-1996-005.jpg

 

vs 

 

49ers-Bengals-1996-001.jpg

 

You can tell these are from 1996 because of the anniversary patch. 

 

Does anyone know why they had one font and apparently switched during the season? 

 

And here is the kicker. Two different fonts in the same game. Look at #8 Steve Young and #85 Ted Popson. 

Cu02e3xVIAAdjF7.jpg

 

Here is Steve Young later in the season during the playoffs. (The switch to the thinner font appeared to have happen in Week 16.)

 

hoi9ewR.jpg

 

So does anyone know why this happened, a font switch midseason?

 

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It could be simply a matter of poor quality control and lack of attention to detail. In the 1980s, the Jets often had the problem of two different 7s on the field at the same time. Below you can see Ken O'Brien wearing the curvy 7, and a lineman with a two-digit number wearing a standard block 7 with a straight diagonal and a bottom serif.

 

c55dfa9877200e5f8bc6b00b279a3517.jpg

 

During the same period, the Mets sometimes appeared on the field with some guys wearing varsity numbers instead of the team's correct block font. (Oddly, this happened only on the road uniform.)

 

So the phenomenon that you noticed with the 49ers might be another example of this kind of inattention.

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Yeah that could be it. But this is surprising still they would have that issue and not correct it until the final weeks of the season, especially for a new uniform set

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I'd be surprised if most fans noticed, though. No particular reason why they should bother fixing it. 

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3 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

It could be simply a matter of poor quality control and lack of attention to detail. In the 1980s, the Jets often had the problem of two different 7s on the field at the same time. Below you can see Ken O'Brien wearing the curvy 7, and a lineman with a two-digit number wearing a standard block 7 with a straight diagonal and a bottom serif.

 

c55dfa9877200e5f8bc6b00b279a3517.jpg

 

During the same period, the Mets sometimes appeared on the field with some guys wearing varsity numbers instead of the team's correct block font. (Oddly, this happened only on the road uniform.)

 

So the phenomenon that you noticed with the 49ers might be another example of this kind of inattention.

Is this from the '80s? It looks like O'Brien's facemask is black.

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10 minutes ago, MCM0313 said:

Is this from the '80s? It looks like O'Brien's facemask is black.

 

Yes; O'Brien was there in the mid-80s.

 

And the mention of facemasks makes me understand how this number thing could have happened. Facemasks are a detail that I, even as a uniform geek, tend not to notice. (To be honest, I don't like noticing them when someone points them out. I'm of the opinion that all facemasks should be grey.)

 

I would bet that most people -- even most people who work for a team -- take as little notice of the number font as I do of the facemask.

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5 minutes ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

 

Yes; O'Brien was there in the mid-80s.

 

And the mention of facemasks makes me understand how this number thing could have happened. Facemasks are a detail that I, even as a uniform geek, tend not to notice. (To be honest, I don't like noticing them when someone points them out. I'm of the opinion that all facemasks should be grey.)

 

I would bet that most people -- even most people who work for a team -- take as little notice of the number font as I do of the facemask.

He was there in the early-90s as well, which is why I asked. I didn't realize the Jets had ever used black in any capacity prior to 1990.

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Aah, the Champion-styled "7". :D

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my best guess is there was a set for front/back and a set for TV numbers, and somehow digits got switched. 

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I remember noticing it at the time. In retrospect, one of the first signs I'd end up on this board.

 

I have no idea why it happened, but it's a shame they switched from the thick font, which the Jaguars used up until their Nike-gasm. Like the great Champion font, this isn't for every team. But it's a great, unique way to do a standard block font. I wish one or two teams would have used that over the last decade instead of coming up with an awful, contrived custom font. And I also wish the Bengals and Bills could bring back the Champion font and wear it forever.

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On 10/15/2016 at 2:36 PM, phutmasterflex said:

I wrote this on my blog and I wanted to post the question here to see if anyone knows the answer: https://butattheendoftheday.com/2016/10/15/the-odd-49ers-number-font-during-the-1996-season/

 

In 1996, the 49ers got this new uniform set: 

 

But in that same season, it looked like that they used two different number fonts. It's most noticeable for the #8. Compare these two

 

And here is the kicker. Two different fonts in the same game. Look at #8 Steve Young and #85 Ted Popson. 

Cu02e3xVIAAdjF7.jpg

 

Here is Steve Young later in the season during the playoffs. (The switch to the thinner font appeared to have happen in Week 16.)

 

hoi9ewR.jpg

 

So does anyone know why this happened, a font switch midseason?

 

 

I took out a few of the photos for ease of reading, but I actually DO know why this happened. 

 

The 49ers changed uniform suppliers from Wilson to Reebok from 1995 to 1996, but the contract was signed late in the process and Wilson had already manufactured all of the samples during the design process. Wilson manufactured its own on-field product, where the other manufacturers used a third party. Starter used Ripon, as would Nike later on and Reebok when they took over the league-wide contract. Reebok used ACO at the time, I believe, which made uniforms for Champion as well. 

 

So Reebok takes on the 49ers in 1996 on a contract signed late. For the first set of uniforms, they used Wilson because they had done all the samples and supposedly already had sets made. They wore those for the first half of the year and replaced them with ACO jerseys with the thinner font as the season wore on. Gridiron Uniform Database has the thinner font appearing on some players as early as October. 

 

Wilson continued to make authentics for every team for a couple more years, until their NFL deal expired, and their 49ers jerseys always featured the original thicker font. 

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1 hour ago, BRice16 said:

 

I took out a few of the photos for ease of reading, but I actually DO know why this happened. 

 

The 49ers changed uniform suppliers from Wilson to Reebok from 1995 to 1996, but the contract was signed late in the process and Wilson had already manufactured all of the samples during the design process. Wilson manufactured its own on-field product, where the other manufacturers used a third party. Starter used Ripon, as would Nike later on and Reebok when they took over the league-wide contract. Reebok used ACO at the time, I believe, which made uniforms for Champion as well. 

 

So Reebok takes on the 49ers in 1996 on a contract signed late. For the first set of uniforms, they used Wilson because they had done all the samples and supposedly already had sets made. They wore those for the first half of the year and replaced them with ACO jerseys with the thinner font as the season wore on. Gridiron Uniform Database has the thinner font appearing on some players as early as October. 

 

Wilson continued to make authentics for every team for a couple more years, until their NFL deal expired, and their 49ers jerseys always featured the original thicker font. 

 

That makes sense, but at least from the pictures posted, the players with the thicker font are all wearing Reebok. I wonder if they ripped off the Wilson logos and sewed the Reebok logos on.

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Niners were also inconsistent with pants color in the mid to late 80s. I have no pics to back up this claim other than always noticing it and being disgusted. lol

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13 hours ago, BrandMooreArt said:

my best guess is there was a set for front/back and a set for TV numbers, and somehow digits got switched. 

If they received them from different manufacturers that would have affected them as well, especially with first year uniforms. The Rams went with standard block numbers in the first year of the current uniforms because of issues getting the custom font done on time.

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12 hours ago, TheOldRoman said:

 

That makes sense, but at least from the pictures posted, the players with the thicker font are all wearing Reebok. I wonder if they ripped off the Wilson logos and sewed the Reebok logos on.

 

No, they never had Wilson logos on them. Wilson was just the manufacturer, they put the Reebok logos on all the on-field products the 49ers wore. 

 

Wilson would go on to manufacture some of the Adidas on-field NFL jerseys for the Bucs, Patroits and the 49ers (again) and all of the Logo Athletic on-field jerseys at their Nashville-area factory.  

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I've posted about this before (years ago, so it's not like an "ahem, this has been covered before" topic) and I can't find it anyway, so...

 

I always heard the reason for this switch was a legibility issue. The very thick numbers and drop shadow combined to make numbers like 8s and 6s illegible (especially from each other) from a distance. This is the same reason the Jacksonville Jaguars switched fonts after the 1997 preseason (interestingly, the number font the Jaguars were originally switching from is the same "thick" font as the early 1996 49ers font, just without a drop shadow. The Jaguars wore it from 1995-96; in 1995 on Wilson/Staff jerseys and in 1996 on Nike).

 

I can't find any sources to back this legibility claim up, but this is always what I heard. Take it for what it's worth, but I remember this vividly.

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22 hours ago, BRice16 said:

 

I took out a few of the photos for ease of reading, but I actually DO know why this happened. 

 

The 49ers changed uniform suppliers from Wilson to Reebok from 1995 to 1996, but the contract was signed late in the process and Wilson had already manufactured all of the samples during the design process. Wilson manufactured its own on-field product, where the other manufacturers used a third party. Starter used Ripon, as would Nike later on and Reebok when they took over the league-wide contract. Reebok used ACO at the time, I believe, which made uniforms for Champion as well. 

 

So Reebok takes on the 49ers in 1996 on a contract signed late. For the first set of uniforms, they used Wilson because they had done all the samples and supposedly already had sets made. They wore those for the first half of the year and replaced them with ACO jerseys with the thinner font as the season wore on. Gridiron Uniform Database has the thinner font appearing on some players as early as October. 

 

Wilson continued to make authentics for every team for a couple more years, until their NFL deal expired, and their 49ers jerseys always featured the original thicker font. 

This does make perfect sense, I knew they had switched from Wilson to Reebok, and I do remember it being late in the game. I owned and operated a sporting apparel store during those years and it caused some issues for us ordering 49ers jersey's. BTW those uniforms were AWFUL.

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