Before he went to the New England Patriots or USC, Carroll was the 49ers’ defensive coordinator for 1995 and 1996. In August 1998, speaking before an exhibition game between the Patriots and 49ers, he said: “This game is of special interest to me. It’s personal because my family and friends will be there, going back to San Francisco, where I came from. It’s fun to play against those guys. I know all those players.”
Just after he took the Patriots job, Carroll said: “It’s one thing to talk about something like that [expecting to win the Super Bowl]. I lived through them the last two years with the 49ers. Championships are expected there every year. That’s what I liked about the job.”
He’d been passed over to replace George Seifert as 49ers head coach after Seifert resigned, despite having a defense that allowed the fewest yards in the NFL in 1995.
Carroll said about that: “Just as it was for George Seifert, because we both grew up around here, it would have been a special opportunity. But I understand their approach, and I agree with it.
“They wanted to get the offensive thing settled and secure. They had gone with a defensive coach [Seifert] for a long time, and that’s just the way it happened. There’s no bad blood at all. There is no ill will. These guys have been extraordinary to me, and they’ve treated me perfectly.”