No. 36: San Francisco 49ers

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 6, 2012, 5:42 PM ET
By Brian Kamenetzky | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 90
Title track: 31
Ownership: 59
Coaching: 3
Players: 20
Fan relations: 50
Affordability: 79
Stadium experience: 111
Bang for the buck: 12

Good thing Candlestick Park is coated thick in storied history, because after 50-plus years by the Bay, it's caked in plenty of less-flattering stuff too. For starters, just getting to the Stick requires fighting such heavy traffic that even the team had trouble making it to last year's NFC title game. Even though San Fran's Stadium Experience is near the bottom of the barrel, the team no longer is. In Jim Harbaugh's first season on the sideline, the Niners improved their point differential from minus-41 to plus-151; posted their first winning season since 2002; and advanced to the conference championship for the first time since 1997. Sure, Harbaugh has developed a somewhat salty relationship with the media, exploiting every slight (real or perceived) in an effort to fire up his team, but just like the honey badger of Internet fame (famously used as a motivational tool by Harbaugh), he don't care. Neither do Niners fans, who rewarded his work with a 54-spot leap up the Standings.