For more than two decades as a front office mainstay, John McVay helped construct San Francisco’s legendary teams of the 1980s and 90s that won five Super Bowls.
Late Sunday, the team released a statement that McVay, its former vice president and glue that held together the organization, will become the 24th person inducted into the 49ers Hall of Fame.
A halftime ceremony is scheduled at the 49ers’ October 13 home game against Arizona to honor McVay. The 82-year-old told the Sacramento Bee:
“I’ve been gone for a while from the franchise, so I thought they’d forget (how) to spell my name. I’m very honored, very humbled. This means a great deal to me.”
After college at Miami, McVay coached high school football in his native Ohio before becoming an assistant a Michigan State. He then became head coach at Dayton in 1965, where he went 37-41-4 over eight years, including four winning seasons.
In 1974, he took the reigns of the Memphis Southmen of the new World Football League, leading them to a 24-7 record over two campaigns.
Nearing the halfway point of the 1976 NFL season, McVay was hired by the New York Giants to replace head coach Bill Arnsparger, and remained in that role through the ’78 season finishing with a 14-23 overall record.
His next challenge came in 1979, becoming the director of player personnel for the struggling 49ers. Yet he formed a strong friendship with new head coach Bill Walsh, and in that years’ draft they decided on picking a skinny quarterback out of Notre Dame — Joe Montana — and a wideout from Clemson named Dwight Clark.
Soon came the glory: “The Catch,” Fred Dean, Dwight Hicks and the Hot Licks, Jerry Rice, the ’86 draft class, Steve Young and Bryant Young, 13 NFC West titles, 16 consecutive seasons with 10 plus wins; all of it punctuated by five Lombardi Trophies.
From handling contracts while making dozen of phone calls a day, to organizing training camp, or maintaining a keen eye for talent at all levels, McVay did it all. Regarding McVay’s upcoming induction, 49ers CEO Jed York said:
“His knowledge of the game and coaching experience allowed him to develop a great partnership with both Bill Walsh and George Seifert that was evident in the team’s performance on the field. John’s commitment and contributions to the 49ers helped to form the rich tradition we strive to carry on today.”