In February I talked with long-time 49ers reporter Kevin Lynch, now with the San Francisco Chronicle, about the 49ers’ dynasty, especially the 1988 49ers. The full interview is in the appendix to my e-book about the ’88 49ers. You can buy that e-book through Lulu.com here. In these excerpts, we talked about Bill Walsh and George Seifert:
Arne: Seifert was hired to replace Walsh very soon after that Super Bowl against the Bengals.
Kevin: He was flying to an interview in Cleveland, they caught him in Dallas waiting for his connecting flight. The record of coaches succeeding Super Bowl coaches is very poor, and Seifert doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves. His teams had something like a 75% winning percentage. One of the big reasons Seifert was successful right away was that he told the players they were the reason for the wins. He didn’t have the personality of Walsh, he was quieter, low-key, very humble. He always thought it was the players’ team. Seifert felt a lot of people were trying to undermine him as coach. Later on, in ’94, when Young was screaming at him on the sidelines during the Eagles game, he liked that. Seifert said it showed how much the team had developed, for Young to be so passionate about the team.
Arne: Walsh has that whole image of “The Genius,” but do you think he made some mistakes as a coach, had some weaknesses?
Kevin: He was often very, very unpopular. He had a huge ego. But as a coach he was pretty flawless. Mostly his style worked. That thing he’d say about trying to get rid of players before they hit their downside, it did work, usually. Of course it created a lot of insecurity. But with Montana in ’88, he was motivated, wanted to prove he could fill that starting role still. He’d won the two Super Bowls, but he still had motivation. The flaw in Walsh maybe was that he really believed his system was so good, he could throw in almost any player and it would work. He didn’t give the players their due. He could be distant. Toward the end of his life he really connected with the players, he reversed all that distance.