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49ers' new alternate uniform is unoriginal, outdated


The 49ers unveiled a new solid-black alternate uniform Thursday night. How bad is it? Let us count the ways:

1. It's at least a decade too late: The heyday of BFBS (that's short for "black for black's sake," for those of you who don't speak uni) was the late 1990s and early 2000s. Trotting out an all-black uniform in 2015 is the visual equivalent of saying, "Hi, I have exactly zero original ideas, and even my unoriginal ideas are really outdated. Aren't you impressed?" No, we're not.

2. It's a poor fit with the team's helmet: The 49ers' helmet uses old-school color-white-color center striping and an even older-school gray face mask. Some fans like these design elements and others don't, but they can probably all agree that the team's traditionalist helmet doesn't mesh well with the modern look of the all-black alternate uni.

3. It fails the first test of any design -- functionality: The red numbers on the black jersey are hard to read. Gold numbers would have been better, or at least they could have outlined the red numbers in gold. Which brings us to...
4. It misses the boat on the NFL's big Super Bowl 50 promotional push: The NFL is celebrating the Super Bowl's 50th anniversary with lots of gold accents. The 50-yard line at all stadiums will be marked with gold numbers next season; first-round picks at the draft received jerseys with gold-lettered nameplates; and so on. Gold is a Niners color, and Super Bowl 50 will be played in the team's new stadium, so you'd think they'd play up the gold, right? Wrong. The only gold on the new jersey and pants is the Nike logo. And it looks pretty good! Too bad they didn't use more gold in the design.

5. It repeats the worst aspect of the team's regular uniform: For years now, the Niners have had these weird partial sleeve stripes. They wouldn't be stupid enough to repeat that design mistake on the new alternate jersey, would they? Yup, they would.

6. It sets the stage for some major shenanigans: Thanks to NFL uniform rules, the Niners will be able to wear the new black jersey only two times per season (which is probably the best thing you can say about it). But there are no rules regarding pants, which means the new black pants could end up being paired with the team's red or white jerseys. Although there appears to be no current plan to do that, it's not hard to envision either the players or team management wanting to do it at some point, "you know, just to change things up." And boy will that look miserable.

7. It's a losing fight: There's already a Bay Area team that wears black. It's called the Raiders, and the Raiders have worn black for half a century, so there's no way the Niners will ever "own" black the way the Raiders do.

8. It makes cheap jokes almost too easy: When the 49ers practice, they use black "no contact" jerseys for their quarterbacks. So this new design pretty much invites people to say, "It looks like a practice jersey!" (And plenty of people on social media are already accepting that invitation.)

It's worth noting that this isn't the first time the Niners have made a serious uni-related misstep. Back in 1991, they famously unveiled a new helmetthat generated so much negative reaction from fans that the team scrapped the design the next day. Is there any chance for a similar fan veto of this new black uniform? We can only hope.

Paul Lukas, a lifelong 49ers fan, is finding his loyalties severely tested by this new uniform. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch membership program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.
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