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-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-

1986

49ERS GO 10-5-1 & WIN THE WEST TITLE, LOSE TO THE GIANTS AGAIN IN THE PLAYOFFS AS THEY KNOCKED OUT MONTANA IN THE FIRST HALF:

When the 1986 season began, the 49ers were off and running with a 31–7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on opening day. But the win was costly; Joe Montana injured his back and was out for two months. Jeff Kemp became the starting quarterback, and the 49ers went 4–3–1 in September and October. Upon Montana’s return, the 49ers caught fire, winning five of the last seven games, including a 24–14 win over the Los Angeles Rams, to clinch the NFC West title. However, theNew York Giants defeated them again in the playoffs, 49–3. Montana was injured in the first half by a hit from the Giants’ Jim Burt.

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-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-

1985

49ERS DRAFT JERRY RICE, NINERS GO 10-6 BUT LOSE TO THE GIANTS IN THE FIRST ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS:

In the 1985 seasonRoger Craig became the first NFL player to gain 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. The 49ers were not as dominant as in 1984, however, and they settled for a 10–6 record, a wild card berth and a quick elimination from the playoffs when the New York Giants beat them 17–3. In addition, 1985 marked the appearance of newly acquired rookie Jerry Rice who would continue with the 49ers throughout the 1990s.

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-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-

1984

49ERS MEET UP WITH DAN MARINO IN THE SUPER BOWL & MONTANA SHOWS HIM WHO’S BOSS THAT DAY, AS MONTANA & THE NINERS CRUSH THE DOLPHINS 38-16 EARNING THEIR 2ND SUPER BOWL TROPHY,MONTANA EARNS SECOND CAREER SUPER BOWL MVP:

In 1984, the 49ers had one of the greatest seasons in team history by finishing the regular season 15–1, setting the record for most regular season wins that was later equaled by the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, and the 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers,the 2011 Green Bay Packers, and finally broken by the 2007 New England Patriots. In the playoffs, they beat the New York Giants 21–10, shut out the Chicago Bears 23–0 in the NFC Championship, and in Super Bowl XIX the 49ers shut down a record-setting year by NFL MVP Dan Marino (and his speedy receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Duper), beating the Miami Dolphins 38–16. Their entire defensive backfield (Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright, Dwight Hicks, and Carlton Williamson) was elected to the Pro Bowl—an NFL first. Their overall record of 18–1 including playoffs is also an NFL record (tied by Chicago in 1985 and New England in 2007).

During the 1984 season,fourteen 49ers players came together to record a 45 pop single entitled “We’re the 49ers.” The song, released as a 45-RPM single on Megatone Records, was produced and co-written by Narada Michael Walden. It mixed elements of R&Bfunk, and pop. Prominent 49ers who provided vocals include Roger CraigDwight Clark and Ronnie Lott (Joe Montana is noticeably absent, although he would join Lott, Clark and Riki Ellison to provide background vocals for the San Francisco band Huey Lewis and the News on two tracks from their 1986 album Fore!). While achieving some local airplay in San Francisco on radio stations like KMEL, it did not catch on nationally the way the Bears’ Super Bowl Shuffle would a year later.

Super Bowl XIX was an American football game between theAmerican Football Conference (AFC) champion Miami Dolphins and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion San Francisco 49ers to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the1984 season. The 49ers defeated the Dolphins by the score of 38–16, to win their second Super Bowl. The game was played on January 20, 1985, at Stanford Stadium, on the campus of Stanford University in Stanford, California.

The game was hyped as the battle between two great quarterbacks: Miami’s Dan Marino and San Francisco’s Joe Montana. The Dolphins entered their fifth Super Bowl in team history after posting a 14–2 regular season record. The 49ers were making their second Super Bowl appearance after becoming the first team ever to win 15 regular season games since the league expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

With Marino and Montana, the game became the first Super Bowl in which the starting quarterbacks of each team both threw for over 300 yards. In addition, the two teams combined for 851 total offensive yards, which at that time was a Super Bowl record. But after trailing 10–7 in the first quarter, the 49ers would end up taking the game in dominating fashion, scoring three touchdowns in the second quarter, and 10 unanswered points in the second half. Montana, who was named the Super Bowl MVP, completed 24 of 35 passes for a Super Bowl-record 331 yards and three touchdowns. He also broke the Super Bowl record for most rushing yards gained by a quarterback with his 5 rushes for 59 yards and 1 rushing touchdown.

This was the first Super Bowl to be televised in the United States byABC, joining the annual broadcasting rotation of the game with CBSand NBC. It was also the first time that the sitting U.S. president participated in the coin toss ceremony; Ronald Reagan appeared live via satellite from the White House and tossed the coin. This Super Bowl was unique in that it fell on the same day that he was inaugurated for a second term; because January 20 fell on a Sunday, Reagan was sworn in privately and the public ceremony took place the following day.

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-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-

1983

49ERS GO 10-6 & WIN THE WEST DIVISION, LOSE TO THE REDSKINS IN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP:

In 1983, the 49ers won their final three games of the season, finishing with a 10–6 record and winning their 2nd NFC Western Divisional Title in three years. Leading the rebound was Joe Montana with another stellar season, passing for 3,910 yards and connecting on 26 touchdowns. In the NFC Divisional Playoffs, they hosted the Detroit Lions. The 49ers jumped out in front early and led 17–9 entering the 4th quarter, but the Lions roared back, scoring two touchdowns to take a 23—17 lead. However, Montana would lead a comeback, hitting wide receiver Freddie Solomon on a game-winning 14-yard touchdown pass with 2:00 left on the clock to put the 49ers ahead 24—23. The game ended when a potential game-winning FG attempt by Lions kicker Eddie Murray missed. The next week, the 49ers came back from a 21—0 deficit against theWashington Redskins in the NFC Championship Game to tie the game, only to lose 24—21 on a Mark Moseley field goal, set up by two controversial pass interference and holding penalties against the 49ers secondary. Washington’s win sent the Redskins to Super Bowl XVIII.

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-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-

1981

49ERS FINALLY BEAT THE COWBOYS IN THE PLAYOFFS BY THE GREATEST “CATCH” IN NFL HISTORY BY DWIGHT CLARK, 49ERS BEAT THE BENGALS IN THE SUPER BOWL TO BRING HOME THEIR FIRST TITLE TO SAN FRAN, JOE MONTANA IS NAMED SUPER BOWL MVP:

With the offense in good shape, Walsh and the 49ers focused on overhauling the defense in 1981. Walsh took the highly unusual step of overhauling his entire secondary with rookies and untested players, bringing on board Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright and Carlton Williamson and giving Dwight Hicks a prominent role. He also acquired veteran linebacker Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds and veteran defensive lineman and sack specialist Fred Dean.

These new additions, when added to existing defensive mainstays like Keena Turner, turned the 49ers into a dominant team. After a 1–2 start, the 49ers won all but one of their final games to finish with a 13–3 record which was the best in the team’s history at that point. Dean made the Pro Bowl, as did Lott, in his rookie season, and Hicks.

Led by Montana, the unusual offense was centered around the short passing game, which Walsh used as ball control. Both Dwight Clark and Freddie Solomon had excellent years receiving; Clark as the possession receiver, and Solomon as more of a deep threat. The 49ers running game, however, was among the weakest for any champion in NFL history. Ricky Patton led the 49ers with only 543 yards rushing. The 49ers’ most valuable running back, however, might have been Earl Cooper, whose strength was as a pass-catching back (he had 51 catches during the season.)

The 49ers faced the New York Giants in the divisional playoffs and won, 38–24, in a game that was not as close as the score suggests. This set up an NFC Championship Game matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, whom the 49ers could never get past during their earlier successful run in the early 1970s.

As they had earlier in the season (beating the Cowboys 45–14), the 49ers played the Cowboys tough, but the Cowboys forced turnovers and held the lead late. Unlike the playoff games of the ’70s, this would end differently. In a scenario not unlike the 1972 divisional playoff, the 49ers were down 27–21 and on their own 11 yard line with 4:54 remaining. As Montana had done for Notre Dame and the 49ers so many times before, he led the 49ers on a sustained drive to the Cowboys’ 6-yard line. On a 3rd-and-3 play, with his primary receiver covered, Montana rolled right and threw the ball off balance to Dwight Clark in the end zone, who leaped up and caught the ball to tie the game at 27, with the extra point giving the 49ers the lead.

"The Catch", as the play has since been named by sportscasters, reminded older 49er fans of the "Alley-oop" passes thatY.A. Tittle threw to lanky receiver R.C. Owens back in the 1950s. A picture of Clark’s leap in the air appeared on the cover of that week’s Sports Illustrated and was also featured in an autumn 2005 commercial for Gatorade.

Despite this, the Cowboys had one last chance to win. And indeed, on the first play of the next possession, Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson caught a pass from Danny White and got to midfield before he was pulled down by the jersey at the 49ers 44 yard line by Cornerback Eric Wright. Had Pearson not have been jersey-tackled, there was a good chance he would have scored a touchdown, as there were no 49ers downfield. On the next play, White was sacked by Lawrence Pillersand fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Jim Stuckey, giving the 49ers the win and a trip to their first ever Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals, who were also in their first Super Bowl.

The 49ers would take a 20–0 halftime lead and hold on to win Super Bowl XVI 26–21 behind kicker Ray Wersching's four field goals and a key defensive stand. Throughout the '81 season, the defense had been a significant reason for the team's success, despite residing in the shadow of the then-innovative offense. Montana won MVP honors mostly on the strength of leading the 49ers on a 92 yard, 12 play drive culminating in a touchdown pass to Earl Cooper. Thus did the 49ers complete one of the most dramatic and complete turnarounds in NFL history, going from back-to-back 2–14 seasons to a Super Bowl championship in just two years.

Montana’s success in the playoffs, and his success in leading the 49ers on big comebacks, made him one of the biggest stars in the NFL, and arguably the best quarterback ever to play the game. Not only was he the face of the 49ers, but his easygoing and modest manner enabled his celebrity to transcend football. Additionally, it caused other teams to consider players who, although not physically gifted, nonetheless had certain intangibles and tendencies that made them great players who could come up big in the toughest of situations.

During their first Super Bowl run, the team was known for its short-range passing game and the play-making ability of quarterback Joe Montana. Later, they became proficient in all aspects of the game, featuring a dominant defense (always in the offense’s shadow) and a fast-scoring passing attack (with wide-receivers Jerry Rice and John Taylor).

Super Bowl XVI was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion San Francisco 49ers and theAmerican Football Conference (AFC) champion Cincinnati Bengals to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1981 season. The 49ers defeated the Bengals by the score of 26–21 to win their first Super Bowl.

The game was played on January 24, 1982, at the Pontiac Silverdomein PontiacMichigan, a suburb of Detroit. It marked the first time that a Super Bowl was held at a cold-weather city. The domed stadium saved the crowd at the game from the very cold and snowy weather, but the weather did affect traffic and other logistical issues related to the game. Super Bowl XVI also became one of the most watched broadcasts inAmerican television history, with more than 85 million viewers, and a final national Nielsen rating of 49.1 (a 73 share).

For the first time since Super Bowl III, both teams were making their first Super Bowl appearance. The 49ers posted a 13–3 regular season record, and playoff wins over the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. The Bengals finished the regular season with a 12–4 record, and had postseason victories over the Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers.

Although the Bengals gained 356 yards of total offense to the 49ers’ 275, this marked the first time in Super Bowl history that the team which compiled the most yards and touchdowns lost. San Francisco built a Super Bowl record 20–0 halftime lead off of a touchdown pass and a rushing touchdown from quarterback Joe Montana and two field goals by Ray Wersching. Cincinnati began to rally in the second half with quarterback Ken Anderson’s 5-yard touchdown run and 4-yard touchdown pass, but a third-quarter goal line stand by the 49ers defense and two more Wersching field goals ultimately pulled the game out of reach. The Bengals managed to score their final touchdown with 20 seconds left, but could not recover the ensuing onside kick. Montana was named the Super Bowl MVP, completing 14 of 22 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing for 18 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

PATRIOTS TRADE OL LOGAN MANKINS TO THE BUCCANEERS
The New England Patriots have traded offensive lineman Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for tight end Tim Wright and an undisclosed draft pick.
Mankins, the Patriots’ 2005 first-round pick has started at least 15 games in seven of his nine NFL seasons, and he fills an obvious need on a Buccaneers’ offensive line that has looked overmatched for much of the preseason.

Last season, Mankins ranked 18th among all guards, according to Pro Football Focus, though he was much better as a run-blocker than a pass-blocker. He immediately becomes the Bucs’ best lineman.
Wright went undrafted in 2013 out of Rutgers. He started eight games last season and had 54 receptions for 571 yards and 5 touchdowns. (Photo: Associated Press)

PATRIOTS TRADE OL LOGAN MANKINS TO THE BUCCANEERS

The New England Patriots have traded offensive lineman Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for tight end Tim Wright and an undisclosed draft pick.

Mankins, the Patriots’ 2005 first-round pick has started at least 15 games in seven of his nine NFL seasons, and he fills an obvious need on a Buccaneers’ offensive line that has looked overmatched for much of the preseason.

Last season, Mankins ranked 18th among all guards, according to Pro Football Focus, though he was much better as a run-blocker than a pass-blocker. He immediately becomes the Bucs’ best lineman.

Wright went undrafted in 2013 out of Rutgers. He started eight games last season and had 54 receptions for 571 yards and 5 touchdowns. (Photo: Associated Press)

ACCORDING TO PLAYER POLL, RAIDERS ARE LEAST DESIRABLE NFL TEAM TO PLAY FORThe Oakland Raiders have been voted the least desirable team to play for in the NFL, according to a confidential survey posed to 100-plus NFL players.The survey posed the question as: “The only way I’d play for [team name] is if they doubled my salary.”Of the 82 players who answered, 23 percent named the Raiders, followed by the Buffalo Bills (19 percent), Cleveland Browns (16 percent), Jacksonville Jaguars (9 percent) and Green Bay Packers (6 percent).

ACCORDING TO PLAYER POLL, RAIDERS ARE LEAST DESIRABLE NFL TEAM TO PLAY FOR

The Oakland Raiders have been voted the least desirable team to play for in the NFL, according to a confidential survey posed to 100-plus NFL players.

The survey posed the question as: “The only way I’d play for [team name] is if they doubled my salary.”

Of the 82 players who answered, 23 percent named the Raiders, followed by the Buffalo Bills (19 percent), Cleveland Browns (16 percent), Jacksonville Jaguars (9 percent) and Green Bay Packers (6 percent).

49ERS LB NAVORRO BOWMAN TO START SEASON ON PUP LISTThe San Francisco 49ers officially placed linebacker NaVorro Bowman on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list Monday. He is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered during the NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks.The move mean Bowman will be ineligible to play in the team’s first six regular-season games as he continues to his rehab.The 49ers also placed running back Marcus Lattimore and offensive lineman Brandon Thomas on the reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) list. They both must miss the first six games of the season before being eligible to return. (Photo: Associated Press)

49ERS LB NAVORRO BOWMAN TO START SEASON ON PUP LIST

The San Francisco 49ers officially placed linebacker NaVorro Bowman on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list Monday. He is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered during the NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks.

The move mean Bowman will be ineligible to play in the team’s first six regular-season games as he continues to his rehab.

The 49ers also placed running back Marcus Lattimore and offensive lineman Brandon Thomas on the reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) list. They both must miss the first six games of the season before being eligible to return. (Photo: Associated Press)

REDSKINS S BRANDON MERIWEATHER SUSPENDED TWO GAMES FOR ILLEGAL HIT…AGAINThe NFL has suspended Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather two games for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, according to several reports.Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, said in a release that Meriweather “delivered a forceful blow to the head and neck area of a defenseless receiver (Smith) with no attempt to wrap up or make a conventional tackle of this player.” The two-game ban marks the second straight season that Meriweather has been suspended for a hit. The Redskins safety was also suspended one game in 2013. Last season’s suspension was originally a two-game ban, but Meriweather got it reduced to one game.Meriweather is eligible to play in Washington’s final preseason game, he’s also allowed to practice with the team from now until the preseason’s over. The 30-year-old’s suspension will begin on Sept. 1 and Meriweather will be eligible to return to the Redskins’ active roster on Sept. 15.Under terms of the CBA, Meriweather has three days to appeal the suspension. (Photo: Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports)

REDSKINS S BRANDON MERIWEATHER SUSPENDED TWO GAMES FOR ILLEGAL HIT…AGAIN

The NFL has suspended Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather two games for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, according to several reports.

Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, said in a release that Meriweather “delivered a forceful blow to the head and neck area of a defenseless receiver (Smith) with no attempt to wrap up or make a conventional tackle of this player.” 

The two-game ban marks the second straight season that Meriweather has been suspended for a hit. The Redskins safety was also suspended one game in 2013. Last season’s suspension was originally a two-game ban, but Meriweather got it reduced to one game.

Meriweather is eligible to play in Washington’s final preseason game, he’s also allowed to practice with the team from now until the preseason’s over. The 30-year-old’s suspension will begin on Sept. 1 and Meriweather will be eligible to return to the Redskins’ active roster on Sept. 15.

Under terms of the CBA, Meriweather has three days to appeal the suspension. (Photo: Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports)

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-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-

1972

49ERS WIN THE WEST TITLE FOR THE THIRD TIME IN A ROW, LOSE TO THE COWBOYS FOR A THIRD A TIME IN A ROW THIS TIME IN THE DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS:

The 49ers won their third consecutive NFC West championship in 1972 with five wins in their last six games, making them the only franchise to win their first three divisional titles after the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Their opponents in the divisional playoffs would once again be the Dallas Cowboys, making it the third consecutive year the teams faced each other in the playoffs.

Vic Washington took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a score, and the 49ers took a 21–6 lead in the second quarter. After the 49ers took a 28–13 lead in the 4th quarter, Tom Landry sent quarterback Roger Staubach, who was backing up Craig Morton, into the game. Staubach quickly led the Cowboys on a drive to a field goal, bringing the score to within 28–16, and as the game wound down it appeared that that would be all the Cowboys would get. However, the Cowboys would complete the comeback all in the last two minutes. Just after the two-minute warning Staubach found Billy Parks for a touchdown to bring the score to 28–23. Needing an onside kick to have a realistic chance at a game-winning touchdown, Cowboys kickerToni Fritsch executed a successful onside kick, with the ball going back to the Cowboys. With the 49ers on the ropes, Staubach completed the comeback with a touchdown pass to Ron Sellers giving the Cowboys a dramatic 30–28 victory and sending the 49ers to yet another crushing playoff defeat.

The defeat would have a chilling effect on the 49ers, as they failed to make the playoffs for the next eight seasons.

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-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-

1971

49ERS GO 9-5 & WIN THE WEST TITLE FOR THE 2ND YEAR IN A ROW,LOSE TO THE COWBOYS AGAIN IN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

Following the 1970 season the 49ers moved from Kezar Stadium to Candlestick Park. Despite being located on the outskirts of the city, Candlestick Park gave the 49ers a much more modern facility with more amenities that was easier for fans to access by highway.

The 49ers won their second straight divisional title in 1971 with a 9–5 record. The 49ers again won their divisional playoff game against the Washington Redskins by a 24–20 final score. This set up a rematch against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game, this time to be played in Dallas. Though the defense again held the Cowboys in check, the 49ers offense was ineffective and the eventual Super Bowl champion Cowboys beat the 49ers again, 14–3.

In 1971, eight 49ers made the Pro Bowl, including defensive back Jimmy Johnson and Gene Washington, both for the second year in a row, as well as defensive end Cedric Hardman, running back Vic Washington, and offensive lineman Forest Blue.

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1970

49ERS GO 10-3-1 & WIN THE WEST DIVISION, QB JOHN BRODIE WINS MVP & CB BRUCE TAYLOR WINS DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR, 49ERS LOSE TO THE COWBOYS IN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

The 1970 49ers started out the 1970 season 7—1—1, their only loss a one-point defeat to Atlanta. After losses to Detroitand Los Angeles, the 49ers won their next two games before the season finale against the Oakland Raiders. Going into the game the 49ers had a half-game lead on the Los Angeles Rams and needed either a win or the Giants to defeat the Rams in their finale to give the 49ers their first ever divisional title.

In the early game, the Giants were crushed by the Rams 30–3, thus forcing the 49ers to win their game to clinch the division. In wet, rainy conditions in Oakland, the 49ers dominated the Raiders, 38–7, giving the 49ers their first divisional championship, becoming champions of the NFC West.

The 49ers won their divisional playoff game, 17–14 against the defending conference champion Minnesota Vikings, thus setting up a matchup against the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC Championship. In what would be the final home game for the 49ers at Kezar Stadium the 49ers kept up with the Cowboys before losing, 17–10, thus giving the Cowboys their first conference championship.

The 49ers sent five players to the Pro Bowl that season, including MVP veteran quarterback John Brodie, wide receiverGene Washington, and linebacker Dave Wilcox. Nolan was also named NFL Coach of the Year for 1970.

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-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-

1957

49ERS OWNER TONY MORABITO DIES FROM A HEART ATTACK DURING NINERS GAME VS BEARS, 49ERS TIE THE LIONS FOR THE WEST TITLE, 49ERS GIVE UP A 20 POINT LEAD TO LOSE A DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF TO THE LIONS:

In 1957, the 49ers would enjoy their first sustained success as members of the NFL. After losing the opening game of the season, the 49ers won their next three against the Rams, Bears, and Packers before returning home to Kezar Stadium for a game against the Chicago Bears. The 49ers fell behind the Bears 17–7. Tragically, 49ers owner Tony Morabito collapsed of a heart attack and died during the game. The 49ers players learned of his death at halftime when coach Frankie Albert was handed a note with two words: “Tony’s gone.” With tears running down their faces, and motivated to win for their departed owner, the 49ers scored 14 unanswered points to win the game, 21—17. Dicky Moegle's late-game interception in the endzone sealed the victory.

On Nov. 3, 1957, the 49ers hosted the Detroit Lions, a game which has gone down in local lore as featuring arguably the greatest pass play (along with Dwight Clark’s “The Catch” in 1981). With 10 seconds remaining, 49ers ball on the Lions 41, Detroit leading 31—28, Y. A. Tittle threw a desperation pass into the end zone, right into the arms of high-leaping R. C. Owens. The play became famously known as the “Alley Oop”. Ironically, the two men covering Owens would later become 49ers coaches: Jack Christiansen (Head Coach), and Jim David.

The 49ers would end that season with three straight victories and an 8—4 record, tying the Detroit Lions for the NFL Western Division title, and setting up a one-game divisional playoff in San Francisco. The 49ers got off to a fast start, and in the third quarter led 27—7. The Lions, led by quarterback Tobin Rote, who earlier in the season had replaced an injuredBobby Layne, would mount one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history and defeat the 49ers, 31—27. Had they won the game, the 49ers would have hosted the NFL Championship game the following weekend against the Cleveland Browns. As it happened, the Lions wound up beating the Browns 59—14.

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1946-1950

49ERS STARTED IN THE ALL-AMERICA FOOTBALL CONFERENCE & WAS THE 2ND BEST TEAM BEHIND THE BROWNS, ALONG WITH THE BROWNS & COLTS THE 49ERS JOIN THE NFL IN 1950, 49ERS GO 3-9 THEIR FIRST SEASON IN THE NFL:

Tony Morabito dedicated his life to bringing an idea to fruition that others thought preposterous – the membership of the West Coast, in general, and San Francisco, in particular, in a nationwide professional football league.

Morabito was the sports pioneer of the West, bringing San Francisco its first major league professional team, the San Francisco 49ers, in a professional sports business that was dominated by the East Coast. Before World War II, Morabito was convinced the San Francisco Bay Area was ready for a franchise in the National Football League. The Bay Area was a mecca for college football. Fans came in droves to Kezar Stadium to see the Wonder Teams of California-Berkeley and the Wow Boys of Stanford, led by Frankie Albert. St. Mary’s, Santa Clara and the University of San Francisco were also area powerhouses that regularly defeated the University of Washington and Southern California inside the walls of Kezar.

Morabito saw the rise of football in the area and presented a case to birth a professional football team in 1942 to National Football League officials, but he was quickly ushered out of the meeting room with firm politeness. In the spring of 1944, he took another crack, filing an application for an expansion team in the NFL. Morabito and some of his business associates went to Chicago to present their plan in front of League Commissioner, Elmer Layden. The NFL had no teams west of Chicago, and had no plans of changing their geographical structure. Morabito was again shunned.

He was then put in touch with Arch Ward, sports editor of The Chicago Tribune who was trying to organize a rival league, the All-America Football Conference. Morabito told Ward to count him in.

The new league’s first meeting was held on June 6, 1944 in St. Louis, D-Day in Europe. Morabito agreed to form a San Francisco franchise in a league that would not begin operations until the end of the war.

It was the right time, and Morabito knew it.

A native of San Francisco, Morabito learned the game of football on vacant lots in the North Beach sector and had some success later as a halfback at St. Ignatius High School. He went on to play for the University of Santa Clara as a freshman in 1927 but his playing career was ended shortly after by a shoulder injury. He received his diploma in 1931 at the height of the Great Depression. He got a job driving a truck for $80 a month while his father, an immigrant from Italy, had built up a flourishing ship’s service business on the San Francisco waterfront, only to see it fold in the wake of the depression years.

As the country’s economic state began to improve, so did Morabito’s. By 1940, when he was 30 years old, he became a success in the lumber carrier business.

The army turned him down for duty in 1942 because of partial deafness, which later forced him to wear a hearing aid.

By 1946, the San Francisco 49ers first year of operation, the Bay Area was in the middle of a postwar economic surge. Morabito’s lumber yard was in huge demand as houses were springing up to shelter the fast-growing population that was migrating to California.

Morabito owned the new All-America Football Conference franchise with his partners in the Lumber Terminals of San Francisco – Allen E. Sorrell and E.J. Turre – and his younger brother, Victor.

Sorell suggested the team be named “49ers” after the voyagers who had rushed the West for gold. It is the only name the team has ever been affiliated with and San Francisco is the only city in which it has resided.

The original team logo depicted San Francisco’s wild beginnings. It was a goldminer in boots and a lumberjack shirt, firing a pair of pistols. One shot just missed the miner’s head, while the other missed his foot. The logo was taken from a design seen on the side of railway freight cars.

With a charter, name and logo, the group recruited Lawrence “Buck” Shaw, Santa Clara’s famous “Silver Fox,” as the 49ers first head coach. The organization spent $250,000 to get structured before the team even took their first snap. Morabito’s approach was considered “first class,” by most, and a financial risk by many.

But Morabito charged on, hand-picking an inaugural roster comprised of 32 players including Frankie Albert, Norm Standlee and Bruno Banducci, all from Stanford, and stars from Santa Clara, including Alyn Beals, an end who scored 46 pro touchdowns in four years. Other known players on the roster were Len Eshmont, Johnny “Johnny Strike” Strzykalski and Joe “The Toe” Ventrano.

Morabito watched as his 49ers played their first game on August 24, 1946, a 17-7 exhibition win over the Los Angeles Dons at Balboa Park in San Diego. The 49ers first home game was played at Kezar Stadium on September 1, 1946, a 34-14 exhibition win over the Chicago Rockets in front of 45,000 fans made up of longshoremen, draymen, mechanics and waterfront workers.

The first regular season league game was on September 8, 1946 against the New York Yankees. The 49ers scored first, but lost 21-7 in a game that began in sunshine and ended in the famous Kezar fog.

The 49ers finished 9-5 in their first season under Shaw, and went on to have an 8-4-2 record in 1947, 12-2 finish in 1948 and 10-4 record, including a trip to the Championship Game, in their final season in the AAFC.

At the end of 1949, it was announced that the AAFC had run its course. San Francisco, Cleveland and Baltimore received NFL franchises and would begin play in the NFL in 1950. The merger was what Morabito had hoped for all along as he, his brother Victor and general manager Lou Spadia, continued to hold the reins.

The 49ers struggled during their first season among the NFL elite, finishing with a 3-9 record. The following year though, the 49ers went 7-4-1.

As the seasons went on, Morabito was the heart and soul of the organization, signing on greats like The Million Dollar Backfield: Joe “The Jet” Perry, Hugh “The King” McElhenny and John Henry Johnson. He also attracted some of the NFL’s most renowned talents in R.C. Owens, Bob St. Clair, Leo Nomellini, John Brodie and Y.A. Tittle.

The players appreciated his honesty, and trusted his every move and word.

As the 1950’s progressed, Morabito was warned by his doctors that a bad heart and the rigors of football were not a healthy combination. But Morabito wasn’t going to let a health scare get in the way of his passion. “What the hell, if I’m going to die, I might as well die at a football game,” he said.

On October 27, 1957, the 49ers hosted the Chicago Bears at Kezar. The 49ers entered the game with a 3-1 record behind the talents of Owens, Perry, Tittle, McElhenny, Billy Wilson, and others. The Bears had a 14-0 advantage in the first quarter before the 49ers scored to close the deficit at 14-7. Just as the 49ers lined up for the next kickoff, Morabito, who was sitting next to his wife, Josephine, and his brother, Victor, in the guest box, suddenly collapsed. The great heart that had been with the 49ers since the franchise’s inception had failed. Father Bill McGuire of St. James parish was summoned to the guest box and pronounced Morabito his final absolution. Morabito looked up at him and smiled.

“Thank you father,” he said.

Those were his last words.

The 49ers were behind 17-7 in the third quarter when the team learned of Morabito’s death. His players rallied and came back to defeat Chicago, 21-17, in an emotional last win for their owner. The 49ers finished the season with three straight victories and an 8-4 record, tying Detroit for the NFL Western Division title.

VIKINGS NAME QB MATT CASSEL WEEK 1 STARTER
Minnesota Vikings players were informed by head coach Mike Zimmer Monday morning that Matt Cassel will start at quarterback in the season opener at St. Louis, ESPN reports.
Cassel put together a solid preseason to hold off rookie Teddy Bridgewater. He has completed more than 66 percent of his passes for 367 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

”Matt did not do anything to lose the job this preseason,” Zimmer said. ”I think he’s played great. The team has a lot of confidence in him. They feel good about his veteran leadership and presence.” (Photo: Associated Press)

VIKINGS NAME QB MATT CASSEL WEEK 1 STARTER

Minnesota Vikings players were informed by head coach Mike Zimmer Monday morning that Matt Cassel will start at quarterback in the season opener at St. Louis, ESPN reports.

Cassel put together a solid preseason to hold off rookie Teddy Bridgewater. He has completed more than 66 percent of his passes for 367 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

”Matt did not do anything to lose the job this preseason,” Zimmer said. ”I think he’s played great. The team has a lot of confidence in him. They feel good about his veteran leadership and presence.” (Photo: Associated Press)