George Seifert was schooled in football on two fronts during his high school days: on the field by Coach Milt Axt and in the stands at Kezar Stadium by his 49ers heroes.
He attended the now-closed Polytechnic High School, a football power and one of only two schools in San Francisco not confined by district lines. The school was located across the street from Kezar, the 49ers' home 1946-70, and one of the perks of being a Poly High player was getting into Kezar to be an usher for 49ers games.
As a loyal 49ers fan, Seifert would study the team's formations and players. "I used to collect chin straps from R.C. Owens, Matt Hazeltine and Billy Wilson," Seifert said. He liked and respected coaches Buck Shaw and Red Hickey, but "Coaching the 49ers wasn't a dream of mine," he said. "I didn't even plan on being a football coach. ... I was interested in being a player."
Before attending Poly, Seifert spent his sophomore year in Humboldt, a coastal mountain county 100 miles south of the Oregon border. He played football at the Hoopa Indian Reservation high school.
Back in San Francisco, he traveled by bus and cable car each day to Poly High. He started out wanting to play fullback but was moved to tight end. During his senior season, he played offensive tackle and linebacker.
Seifert often recalls a painful memory from his senior year. Poly was playing Balboa High School for the city championship on Thanksgiving Day, 1957. Seifert missed his chance to knock away the winning touchdown, and Poly High lost the game.