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Lonesome George: A Look at a San Francisco 49er Head Coach

Andre Tameta
Jul 14, 2009 at 5:59 PM


In the 1995 Pro Bowl after the San Francisco 49ers became the first team to win five Super Bowls, there was a banner that read "Smile George" from San Francisco fans that made the trip to Hawaii.

It was time for the low key San Francisco native and his 49ers to smile and bask in the glory of winning the World's championship for a second time under his watch.

Former 49ers' head coach George Seifert was Bill Walsh's defensive coordinator for six years and was promoted to the top spot when Walsh retired after San Francisco's 20-16 Super Bowl XXIII victory in 1989, allowing continuing cohesion of an already talented championship team.

The Cornell grad often did not show emotion on the sidelines, but off the field his players thought of their new head coach as kind of quirky because of his strange body language and many superstitions such as wearing "lucky" clothing and always following the same path on to the practice field.

"It was sort of like a little entertainment for us when he was coming out on the field," former wide receiver Jerry Rice chuckled in the 1989 San Francisco 49ers edition of America's Game. "It was hilarious because we would watch him and he would never, never walk on that logo."

"I'd always walk around it because it was a sign of respect," Seifert replied in America's Game. "Like I wouldn't walk on the American flag."

Seifert spent the last 15 years upstairs in the coaches' booth but his players on his 1989 San Francisco 49er squad were already a group of talented veterans that knew how to win when it counted.

Seifert's 49ers would dominate the game of football in the 1989 season running up a 14-2 record as offensive coordinator Mike Holmgren led the offense to a No. 1 ranking, culminating with a Super Bowl XXIV appearance against John Elway and the Denver Broncos at the Louisiana Superdome.

As the 49er player introduction came to a close when fullback Tom Rathman's name was called, the whole team ran on to the field completely forgetting about their coach as he stood with the Denver Broncos who were yet to be introduced.

But things would turn out okay as the San Francisco 49ers scored a record 55 points on the Denver Broncos who squeaked by with a lowly 10 points in the most dominating performance in Super Bowl history.

As the final moments of Super Bowl XXIV came to a close, Seifert would be disappointed again.

"The game is over and now the players pick the coach up to be carried off the field," Seifert continued on in America's Game. "I'm standing there thinking this is my moment of glory through this whole deal, you know, finally after this tough season."

"But everybody just ran off the field!"

On Jan. 29, 1995, George Seifert once again did not get carried off field when the San Francisco 49ers took the San Diego Chargers out in Super Bowl XXIX.

Maybe that's why he wasn't smiling at the Pro Bowl. At least he wasn't coaching the NFC Pro Bowl squad since the Cowboys' Barry Switzer took the honor after losing to Seifert and the 49ers 38-28 in the NFC Championship.

Poor, old lonesome George, but he is no doubt a key figure in San Francisco 49er history with his continuation of the dynasty that Bill Walsh created.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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