Allow me to predicate everything with this. I firmly believe that this weekend’s divisional matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers is going to be a good one. These two teams are mirror images of each other. Their backbone resides in each team’s defense. Both teams main offensive focus is to establish a running game, while being supported by young, superlative quarterbacks. Mix in an array of talented receiving options and consistent special teams, and you end up with similar teams clashing this upcoming weekend.
The one key ingredient missing in this formula is that lure. There isn’t that underlying venom between these teams that gives a little added angst for the fans. Sure, our team lost a close contest in week 10 of the regular by the score of 10-9. The 49ers are even at a disadvantage in the overall head-to-head records at 7-11. While exercising every bit of memory I could extract from that space on top of my shoulders, I recollected that the Panthers were even in the 49ers division for a seven year time period. That’s a fairly sizeable chuck for a franchise that is less than 20 years old. Yet, I don’t experience the same putrid apprehension when I think of the Carolina Panthers as I do the Seattle Seahawks….or the Green Bay Packers…or the Dallas Cowboys….or the Rams…Cardinals….Raiders….etc.
But, this is the NFL Playoffs. A little extra oomph isn’t needed at all. These are our San Francisco 49ers. This is the team that most of us have enjoyed, supported through highs and lows, and blatantly overreacted with since our youth. More than likely, it’s just in our nature to get up for each and every game. But, indulge me if you will anyway with this piece of knowledge.
Who is the San Francisco 49ers all-time winningest coach?
That’s a softball question right? Based off winning percentages, we all know it’s……Jim Tomsula! I kid. I kid. I kid. Of course, I’m referring to George Seifert.
It’s fairly common knowledge that George Seifert epitomizes San Francisco. Even more so, he oozes San Francisco 49ers through and through. Seifert spent the majority of his adolescent years in and around the bay area. The most enthralling fact about Seifert was his passion for the 49ers at an early age. He grew up attending games, routing for the 49ers. In a sense, he’s just like thousands of 49ers Faithful out there world wide. Well, except for the fact that George was eventually the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Nationally, George Seifert doesn’t get the proper credit that he deserves. Within the fan base of the 49ers, Seifert is highly revered. He’s viewed as many admirable things within our Niners culture. As a defensive mind and coach, he’s viewed as a transcendent innovator. Seifert was known as a consummate chess player within the game of football, as he’d consistently out think his opposition’s offense. Making adjustments based off of offensive tendencies was a practice almost unheard of until George Seifert.
Of course, Seifert was the successor to the legend, Bill Walsh. He carried the torch passed by Walsh to perfection adding two additional Lombardi Trophies under his head coaching regime. He ranks first in franchise history with wins (98), playoff wins (15), and winning percentage* (.766).
All this lineage, all this history, and all this lore for George Seifert as the Commander of the San Francisco 49ers Empire for eight years is supplanted by the cold hard fact that Seifert finished his career as a Carolina Panther. I’m not oblivious to the fact that Seifert was essentially forced out as the leader of the 49ers after the 1996 season. Front office personnel were making a push at the time for a young offensive guru, Steve Mariucci, to become head coach for the 49ers. But for the purpose of trying to stir up disdain for this upcoming playoff matchup, I’m going to throw a few eggs at the Panthers!
The Carolina Panthers….no, no, no…the expansion Carolina Panthers took our San Francisco guy. They took one of, if not THE, greatest coach in San Francisco 49ers history and fired him after only three seasons. The Panthers toted our lifelong 49er and dressed him in that ridiculous off colored blue (does it have a name?) and asked him to perform miracles. Those same Panthers brought our defensive mastermind and handed him Steve Beuerlein at quarterback. Yes, this weekend’s divisional playoff matchup, the Carolina Panthers, took a man happily retired and enjoying the life of an avid fisherman and placed him as the head of their franchise. I know it takes two to tango. But, I’m telling ya, the Carolina Panthers are the ones with two left feet! Lastly, and most importantly, the Carolina Panthers were the last team our 49ers icon ever coached for! Can you believe the blatant audacity of those people?
If not, just wait until kickoff on Sunday and that should provide all the animosity one needs! The Quest for Six continues…………
*Jim Harbaugh also currently has a .766 winning percent