SANTA CLARA — One day after being named the 25th inductee into the Edward J. Debartolo Sr. San Francisco 49ers Hall Of Fame, former coach George Seifert spoke at the SAP Performance Facility Tuesday afternoon.
After being promoted to head coach in 1989, Seifert went on to a glistening 98-30 regular season record while leading the 49ers to two Super Bowl championships.
Seifert was excited by the opportunity to be honored by a franchise that holds such historical significance in his life both as a child and as a professional:
“The fact that I grew up a San Francisco 49ers fan and to be in the Hall of Fame with players that were kind of my idol in a way … and then to be in the Hall of Fame with the fellows that I worked with as the coach, players and coaches. Coach [Bill] Walsh, and others that are in the Hall of Fame. So, yeah, it’s special.”
Seifert, whose 1989 team won Super Bowl XXIV, is just one of three head coaches in NFL history to win a ring during his rookie campaign.
Though replacing legendary coach Bill Walsh was no easy task, Seifert claimed that his experience as an assistant to Walsh helped groom him into the head coach that would eventually lead the 49ers to two Super Bowl victories:
“I probably developed most as a coach during that period. And probably the most enjoyable period of my coaching career was coaching with Bill as an assistant. When I became the head coach, I was a part of the development of the way we operated. So, it was like a natural flow.”
More than just a former coach, Seifert’s history with the team has spanned across multiple decades. His induction into the new 20,000 square-foot 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium has given the ex-coach a foot in every historical venue the 49ers have played in:
“Well, that’s neat. I’ll be involved with all three stadiums. Kezar as a fan and as a high school player myself playing games in Kezar, and then working and coaching at Candlestick. And then being fortunate enough to be inducted in the new stadium. So, it kind of goes one, two, three.”
Seifert referred to the 49ers as “my team” when being asked if he still follows the game, and gave high praise to current coach Jim Harbaugh on his work as head coach:
“It’s miraculous to have won the number of games and championship games in the short period of time that he’s been a head coach here. And to turn the program around you might say and get it back to where we all believe it belongs is pretty darn exciting and amazing.”
Seifert told an entertaining story of a time during his coaching tenure when Harbaugh was still a quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts:
“Jim was instrumental in Indianapolis beating us at the end of the game. And obviously their team was elated and they all ran onto their sideline. And the one player in an Indianapolis uniform who ran towards our sideline was Jim Harbaugh with his arms outstretched kind of doing like an airplane buzzing us.”
Now retired, Seifert looks back on the incident as humorous, although he admitted Harbaugh’s feisty demeanor may have gotten to him in the heat of the moment:
“At that moment, I do say that I was in awe of it a little bit because it took a lot of, I’m sure there are a lot of terms to express what he did, I won’t mention them.”
When questioned about his actions during the game, Harbaugh responded light-heartedly:
“I think I let my emotions get the best of me.”