George Seifert, 49ers consultant
George Seifert resigned after leading his hometown team to 108 victories and two Super Bowl championships during his eight seasons as head coach of the 49ers.
"There was a sense that the time was right," he said Jan. 15, 1997. Indeed, the time was right if there's any sense in plotting the exit of the coach with the highest winning percentage in NFL history, at .755. The 49er brass had in mind to groom young, offensive-minded coach Steve Mariucci to be Seifert's replacement. Seifert decided Mariucci could have the job right away.
His 17 years with the 49ers were marked by five championships and never enough acclaim. Seifert was as much a building block to the 49er system as anyone else. "For whatever reason, people think the stamp was put on the team by Bill Walsh," Ronnie Lott has said. "But George had a lot to do with the overall success of the organization. The reason the 49ers won championship games was the defense."
Seifert remained a consultant with the 49ers in the final year of his contract. Immediately following his resignation, he turned down head coaching positions with the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots, vowing to take the year off from coaching.
And what a year he had. He spanned the globe, traveling to such exotic locales as New Zealand, Chile (chronicled on an ESPN fishing show), Costa Rica and Mexico (many times). There was a fall driving tour through the Rockies, a trip to Italy and a Rolling Stones concert.
In Costa Rica, Seifert landed one of the top catches of his life -- a 130-pound sailfish on a flyrod. Of his trip to New Zealand with his wife, Seifert said: "We took a helicopter in to the North Island for 8- to 10-pound rainbow trout, flyfishing. It was the best day of fishing and adventure I'd ever had, and not that I caught all these fish but just the environment."
What did he do in Italy? "Lunch," Seifert said. George and Linda spent time at Lake Como in the Alps and in the Tuscan wine town of Castellina in Chianti, 20 miles from Florence. "And every day we sat down had a wonderful lunch. We also went sightseeing and shopped. Saw Michelangelo's David. Bought some paintings."
Seifert's year wound up with him back in California, with rumors swirling about where he might coach in 1998.
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