The 1988 San Francisco 49ers might be the most consistent inconsistent Super Bowl team of all-time. The 2012 Ravens might be close though, but the 88 49ers were a 10-6 team that on paper looked like they could’ve easily won 12 or 13 games. But 10-6 teams tend to be somewhat inconsistent and have great stretches followed by poor stretches. Otherwise they don’t lose six games and just barely win their division. But win their division going away, unless they play in a great division.
The reason why the 88 49ers struggled and had ups and downs, was their offense sputtered and were up and down. They had two starting quarterbacks that year, because Joe Montana was hurt in the season. So young but somewhat inexperienced Steve Young who would also go on to be a great Hall of Fame quarterback, was given the chance to be the 49ers starting QB. But Young was up and down as well and committed too many turnovers. The only consistent thing about the 88 49ers, was their defense which was usual in the 1980s was one of the best in the NFL.
The 1988 49ers are the perfect example of why their soft finesse label didn’t stick and was never accurate. They were about as strong and physical on defense as any team in the NFL in that decade and 1988 and Super Bowl 23 is a perfect example of that. They shut down the Cincinnati Bengals power ball control offense that moved the ball down the field and scored against everyone else in the league. And won several blowouts, but the 49ers stuffed Icky Woods, James Brooks and their running game and held them to 16 points.
The 49ers offense got hot late in the 88 regular season and that carried through the 1988 NFC Playoffs, but only RB Roger Craig and WR Jerry Rice and perhaps their offensive line was consistent during that regular season. But their defense was very good the whole season and dominated the 1988 NFC Playoffs against the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears and dominated the Super Bowl. Which is how a 10-6 inconsistent team can win the Super Bowl. You have something that carries you through the regular season. Get hot late and carry it into the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.