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Why didn't Joe Thomas work in San Francisco?

I am watching the Top 10 Draft Trades on NFL Network right now. They are giving credit to Joe Thomas for basically building the Miami Dolphins dynasty of the early 70s. It was stated that he drafted 21 of the 22 starters on those championship teams and this is even before Don Shula arrived. I also know that he had a hand in building some pretty good Baltimore Colts teams of the 1970s. Even though I was not born in the 70s, I do know the Joe Thomas is as hated among old time 49er fans as Bill Walsh is loved. The hatred was well deserved because as I understand it, he traded for an over the hill O.J. Simpson and attempted (or was he successful) and getting rid of all old 49er memorabilia, tape, etc? But based on his resume, he seems to be pretty decent at building teams, so I want to know from fans who were around at the time, why didn't Joe Thomas work in San Francisco?
Because no1curr
Because he was an egotistical fool who wouldnt listen to anyone. The OJ trade was all about making a big splash for him. He didnt have the vision to build for the future but just wanted to get something right away. Horrible. Thankfully Eddie dumped him for Bill Walsh and John McVay.
Originally posted by DaDivaRecieva15:
Because no1curr

Originally posted by LifelongNiner:
I am watching the Top 10 Draft Trades on NFL Network right now. They are giving credit to Joe Thomas for basically building the Miami Dolphins dynasty of the early 70s. It was stated that he drafted 21 of the 22 starters on those championship teams and this is even before Don Shula arrived. I also know that he had a hand in building some pretty good Baltimore Colts teams of the 1970s. Even though I was not born in the 70s, I do know the Joe Thomas is as hated among old time 49er fans as Bill Walsh is loved. The hatred was well deserved because as I understand it, he traded for an over the hill O.J. Simpson and attempted (or was he successful) and getting rid of all old 49er memorabilia, tape, etc? But based on his resume, he seems to be pretty decent at building teams, so I want to know from fans who were around at the time, why didn't Joe Thomas work in San Francisco?

Sometimes, its about being in the right place at the right time aka Bill Belechick.

Where one enjoys success in one place doesn't mean it will be duplicated in another.
Niner Nation has a great write up on the '78 season.

Joe Thomas' first season making the 49ers' roster and personnel decisions had been just short of a disaster. His inception had thrown the front office into disarray. Furthermore, he had an unprecedented amount of power over the everyday operation of the team. His first choice as a head coach, Ken Meyer, had been a victim and, ultimately, a casualty of this power. Under Meyer, the players never felt a sense of stability or structure from their head coach, and the team culture went down the drain because of it. Thanks to Thomas' haphazard, impulsive lineup changes, the team never got into a rhythm, nobody felt comfortable in their roles, and it showed in the results - a disappointing 5-9 season.

If Joe Thomas' power trip had crippled the team in 1977, it decimated what was left of the team in 1978.

My favorite part though is this..

The only consolation of the losing came on November 27th and wasn't even known to fans until after the season. As the season wore on, Thomas' egomania and paranoia grew to unheard of levels. He would send security guards around the stadium to confiscate signs calling for his release. He got into a fight with a beat reporter. He fired McCulley midseason and replaced him with Fred O'Connor. To top it all off, he tried to cancel the November 27th game, which was the same day that San Francisco Mayor George Moscone was assassinated - not out of respect for Moscone, but because he thought it was a conspiracy that would lead to his own assassination!
Originally posted by redrathman:
Niner Nation has a great write up on the '78 season.

Joe Thomas' first season making the 49ers' roster and personnel decisions had been just short of a disaster. His inception had thrown the front office into disarray. Furthermore, he had an unprecedented amount of power over the everyday operation of the team. His first choice as a head coach, Ken Meyer, had been a victim and, ultimately, a casualty of this power. Under Meyer, the players never felt a sense of stability or structure from their head coach, and the team culture went down the drain because of it. Thanks to Thomas' haphazard, impulsive lineup changes, the team never got into a rhythm, nobody felt comfortable in their roles, and it showed in the results - a disappointing 5-9 season.

If Joe Thomas' power trip had crippled the team in 1977, it decimated what was left of the team in 1978.

My favorite part though is this..

The only consolation of the losing came on November 27th and wasn't even known to fans until after the season. As the season wore on, Thomas' egomania and paranoia grew to unheard of levels. He would send security guards around the stadium to confiscate signs calling for his release. He got into a fight with a beat reporter. He fired McCulley midseason and replaced him with Fred O'Connor. To top it all off, he tried to cancel the November 27th game, which was the same day that San Francisco Mayor George Moscone was assassinated - not out of respect for Moscone, but because he thought it was a conspiracy that would lead to his own assassination!

In other words, no 1 curred lol

I remember those Plunkett, OJ days, somewhat vaguely (I was 10 years old).

I do remember the assassination of Moscone and Milk and the riots. My oldest sister worked on Moscone's campaign and I met him on one of those motorized cable cars.
[ Edited by wysiwyg on Feb 18, 2013 at 10:14 PM ]
This article is as good as any at summing up Thomas' shortcomings. My guess would be that he was good when not the leader, but with unlimited power was out of his depth. Similar to other guys, like Nolan, who do well in a support role but should never be the lead dog.

"Joe Thomas' first season making the 49ers' roster and personnel decisions had been just short of a disaster. His inception had thrown the front office into disarray. Furthermore, he had an unprecedented amount of power over the everyday operation of the team. His first choice as a head coach, Ken Meyer, had been a victim and, ultimately, a casualty of this power. Under Meyer, the players never felt a sense of stability or structure from their head coach, and the team culture went down the drain because of it. Thanks to Thomas' haphazard, impulsive lineup changes, the team never got into a rhythm, nobody felt comfortable in their roles, and it showed in the results - a disappointing 5-9 season."

http://www.ninersnation.com/2009/3/6/782886/49ers-year-by-year-1978
Bill Walsh always pointed out that some of his success was because of the talent assembled before he arrived.
The most common reason why people couldn't stand him other than the constant losing was the tearing down all the photos of Niner Hall-of-Famers and former players. On top of that, he was just a dick as the part about him thinking there would be an assassination on him plainly shows.
  • cciowa
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 22,987
Originally posted by wysiwyg:
In other words, no 1 curred lol

I remember those Plunkett, OJ days, somewhat vaguely (I was 10 years old).

I do remember the assassination of Moscone and Milk and the riots. My oldest sister worked on Moscone's campaign and I met him on one of those motorized cable cars.
here is your history lesson. plunkett had nothing to do with oj, they were two years apart. in 1976 we had a great team for a half a year 6-1 behind game manager plunkett who all he had to do is hand it off to delvin williams and wilbur jackson. all he had to do is throw a nice ball to gene washington and a rookie sensation named willie mcgee. you did not have to score alot of points because we had the most effective and violent front four to ever play the game. sad to say, mcgee broke a leg, they doubled on gene washington. we had injuries on the d line and ended up 8-6. monte clark was a great coach for us but in that off season, thomas came in and it was all about power and control. he wanted monte to give up control, monte said f**k you. so they hired a good coach who the team loved and just like when mooch was fired, the thomas had no plan to bring in someone better. we got myer, plunkett was gone along with people like gene washington and cedrick hardman. the replacements for those types of people were oj, a coked up hollywood henderson and we know what occured from there. there is a right way and a wrong way to make a winner and thomas did it the wrong way. there was really nothing broke around here at the time. we were a good team when healthy. but when he fired monte and hired impotent people that was the start. then he got rid of popular players, which was number two. then in a desperate effort to attract fans who would not wear bags over thier heads, he traded our future for a broken down oj. finally bill walsh was hired, we traded delvin williams for freddie soloman, drafted joe and got things back on track
Originally posted by cciowa:
here is your history lesson. plunkett had nothing to do with oj, they were two years apart. in 1976 we had a great team for a half a year 6-1 behind game manager plunkett who all he had to do is hand it off to delvin williams and wilbur jackson. all he had to do is throw a nice ball to gene washington and a rookie sensation named willie mcgee. you did not have to score alot of points because we had the most effective and violent front four to ever play the game. sad to say, mcgee broke a leg, they doubled on gene washington. we had injuries on the d line and ended up 8-6. monte clark was a great coach for us but in that off season, thomas came in and it was all about power and control. he wanted monte to give up control, monte said f**k you. so they hired a good coach who the team loved and just like when mooch was fired, the thomas had no plan to bring in someone better. we got myer, plunkett was gone along with people like gene washington and cedrick hardman. the replacements for those types of people were oj, a coked up hollywood henderson and we know what occured from there. there is a right way and a wrong way to make a winner and thomas did it the wrong way. there was really nothing broke around here at the time. we were a good team when healthy. but when he fired monte and hired impotent people that was the start. then he got rid of popular players, which was number two. then in a desperate effort to attract fans who would not wear bags over thier heads, he traded our future for a broken down oj. finally bill walsh was hired, we traded delvin williams for freddie soloman, drafted joe and got things back on track


Great post, 1976 was a tough year after starting out so well. And you named two of my favorite players, Williams + Hardman. Broke my heart when they traded Delvin, but getting Freddie was a nice consolation.
My recollection is not as good as some here.

Moved here from Detroit 1970. My Dad said we are Californians now and we need to fully immerse and abandon our beloved Lions, Tigesr, Red Hawks and Pistons (And no one gives up there hometown teams ... not sure why he thought we had to). I remember asking if I could follow the Raiders instead of the Niners (Stabler, Biletnikoff better seemed a better alternative). But Bill Walsh spun my head even with the dubious record of 2-14 ... I had a feeling (or wrongly remember being clairvoyant).
+
I just remembered he had a great reputation on talent, then coming here traded much of our future to put butts in our stadium seats with washed-up-past-greats (OJ/Plunkett), not even sure the Niners FO went to the draft given few selections they had left.
Funny how a trip down memory lane, also known as the internet, can help your total recall! I'd forgotten that Joe Thomas had two claims to fame: 1) player personnel and 2) helping Robert Irsay buy the Rams and then trade them for the Colts. He was never a successful GM. He was rewarded by Irsay for putting the sale together and made GM, immediately traded away all the stars and fired four other coaches in four years, Marchibroda was hired and took the team to the playoffs. Thomas decided he should be fired. Fired five coaches in Balt (he even coached for part of a year) in five years and two in SF in one year.

My own recollection, with no assist, was that Monte Clark had really stabilized the team and had them poised to succeed. They had a number of players who would become pro bowl caliber including two linemen, which I loved because of the truth in the phrase--build your lines first.

I've always thought Thomas was hired to be the bad guy in cleaning out the niners so Eddie could build his own team.
[ Edited by dtg_9er on Feb 21, 2013 at 7:29 AM ]
  • cciowa
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 22,987
Originally posted by dtg_9er:
Funny how a trip down memory lane, also known as the internet, can help your total recall! I'd forgotten that Joe Thomas had two claims to fame: 1) player personnel and 2) helping Robert Irsay buy the Rams and then trade them for the Colts. He was never a successful GM. He was rewarded by Irsay for putting the sale together and made GM, immediately traded away all the stars and fired four other coaches in four years, Marchibroda was hired and took the team to the playoffs. Thomas decided he should be fired. Fired five coaches in Balt (he even coached for part of a year) in five years and two in SF in one year.

My own recollection, with no assist, was that Monte Clark had really stabilized the team and had them poised to succeed. They had a number of players who would become pro bowl caliber including two linemen, which I loved because of the truth in the phrase--build your lines first.

I've always thought Thomas was hired to be the bad guy in cleaning out the niners so Eddie could build his own team.
he wanted monte to give up power, monte said f**k you, he got fired and it all went downhill from there
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