NEW ORLEANS -- The San Francisco 49ers have five Super Bowl titles. They have a rich history, dating to the franchise's first championship to end the 1981 season.
Yet it means nothing to these 49ers.
"I don't know [anything about the team's past]. I was born in '83," 49ers running back Frank Gore said with a chuckle. "... I hear they had good teams."
The 49ers have waited a long time to get back to the NFL's Promised Land. They have a generation of fans who have no idea how good the 49ers used to be since it was 18 years ago that the 49ers won their last Super Bowl title.
San Francisco went 126-130 in the 16 seasons after their fifth Super Bowl title in 1994 until 2011 when Jim Harbaugh arrived as head coach. The 49ers were 13-3 last season before going 11-4-1 this season on their way to New Orleans.
"They kind of went through a dry spell there," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said in something of an understatement.
Aldon Smith was only 5 years old during the 1994 season, the last time San Francisco celebrated an NFL championship.
The All-Pro linebacker said the only highlight he's ever even seen of the 49ers' dynasty days was "The Catch." And that didn't happen in a Super Bowl. Dwight Clark's game-winning touchdown with 51 seconds left came in the 1981 NFC championship to beat the Dallas Cowboys 28-27.
"But every day," Smith said, "I'm reminded of the history."
The team's five Super Bowl trophies are displayed in the lobby of the 49ers' training facility in Santa Clara. And Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, two of the 13 Pro Football Hall of Famers who spent a major part of their careers with the 49ers, still cast large shadows over the organization.
"You walk through the facility, and all the past Lombardi trophies that we've won -- they're proudly displayed," left tackle Joe Staley said. "It's a rich tradition there. You're reminded of that with the fan base as well. A lot of the people you meet in the community said they became fans of the 49ers in the '80s when they were young. But right now, we're trying to establish our own identity. We don't want to live in the past. We're trying to create our own tradition and things everybody can be excited about."
The team is using the slogan "Quest for Six." A sixth title would put the 49ers one Super Bowl ahead of the Cowboys and alongside the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Lombardi Trophies in history.
The 49ers passed out red rally towels bearing the slogan at the NFC divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers. They are selling "Quest for Six" T-shirts. They have a "Quest for Six" promo video on their website with highlights from this season as well as from their past. "Quest for Six" has 1.6 million likes on Facebook and is trending on Twitter.
The 49ers arrived in New Orleans on Sunday wearing lanyards with the slogan around their necks. They see it not as a heavy burden but as an opportunity to leave their mark on the team's history.
"Those teams that the 49ers had back then were in another category, and it's an elite category," linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. "We have a chance to be placed in that same category, and we don't want to let that chance slip away."