Just a few seasons ago, the 49ers ranked among the NFL’s elite teams.
Under head coach Jim Harbaugh, the Niners went 13-3, 11-4-1 and 12-4 from 2011 through 2013 and reached the NFC Championship Game three times and the Super Bowl once.
Now, as the 49ers head toward the start of training camp for the 2016 season, they’re coming off 8-8 and 5-11 seasons.
Yet as the team has floundered on the field, the value of the franchise has climbed to elite status.
In the latest annual edition of Forbes magazine’s list of top-50 valued sports franchises in the world, the 49ers come in at No. 11 with an estimated value of $2.7 billion.
The 49ers are the fifth-most valuable NFL franchise, according to Forbes, behind the Dallas Cowboys (No. 1 overall at $4 billion), the No. 6 Patriots ($3.2 billion), No. 8 Washington ($2.85 billion) and No. 9 Giants ($2.85 billion). The 49ers also were valued at $2.7 billion in the 2015 Forbes rating, the season after the team moved from longtime home Candlestick Park into Levi’s Stadium.
As Forbes noted last year, the 49ers' move from longtime home Candlestick Park greatly increased its value. The franchise was valued at $1.6 billion in its final year at the 'Stick.
Wrote Forbes: “In 2014 the 49ers moved out of antiquated Candlestick Park and into $1.2 billion Levi’s Stadium. Presto! The team’s revenue from ticket sales, sponsors, concessions, luxury suites and non-football events jumped 160 percent versus the previous season.”
However, the extra value -- or new facility -- has yet to pay off with better players or teams. Since Harbaugh's departure, key players have been lost and the team is on its second head coach.
There are 27 NFL franchises on the list of the 50 most valuable sports franchises. There are seven major league baseball teams on the list, eight NBA teams and eight European soccer clubs.
According to Forbes, the average NFL franchise in the top 50 is worth $2.2 billion vs. $1.75 billion a year ago.