1979 marked the first year of the Bill Walsh-era for the San Francisco 49ers. It was not only a new era for the franchise, which up until this point had been known as the Generals to the Dallas Cowboys' Globetrotters, and had not recovered since losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Cowboys in the 1972 playoffs. It was OJ Simpson's final season in the NFL, and the Niners started the long road to respectability with a 2-14 mark in their first year w/ Walsh. Steve DeBerg started at QB and threw for over 3600 yards and 17 touchdowns, but spoiled it with 21 interceptions. Future key contributors Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, Ray Wersching, Lenvil Elliott (see, The Catch), and Dwight Hicks all saw action this year...providing a foundation for future years. The franchise finished 7-9 against the Spread, including 4-3 as a home dog.
Week 1: 49ers at Vikings
Ahmad Rashad and Tommy Kramer team-up to give the 49ers their first of 14 losses in year 1. The officiating assisted. The call was so bad the 49ers tried to protest the game, like they do in Major League Baseball.
Week 2: Cowboys at 49ers
A long ways away from the catch...the Cowboys hold off the youngsters at the 'Stick. Hidden gems in the full game: Tony Dungy drops a pick 6, then botches a fair catch on a punt return, OJ Simpson (in a preview of things to come) ducks when DeBerg throws him a pass.
Week 3: 49ers at Rams
97 degrees on the field...Pat Haden leads the Rams to victory. Oh, and JOE MONTANA'S FIRST NFL CAREER COMPLETE PASS. (It was for 8 yards to running back Phil Francis on a fake field goal attempt in the first quarter. It was a hell of a catch by Francis, who was being interfered with and was forced out of bounds, but at that time if you were forced out of bounds, the official could decide whether or not you would have made the catch without being pushed out. Go to the 16 minute mark for that).
Full-game replay, Dick Stockton and George Allen talking to the booth is top notch. Watching Orenthal limp around: no.
This game was much closer than the final score indicates. A wild offsides penalty on a missed San Diego FG in the 4th led to new life for Fouts and Winslow. A touchdown pass later, it was 24-9, and as Allen and Stockton stated after the extra point "that'll about do it for this one". The Niners coughed it up one more time, the Chargers tacked on one more with 8 seconds left, and it was on to a home game vs Seattle.
Ray Wersching led the game off with a tone-setting tackle on the kick returner...Steve DeBerg threw for 306 yards...and a bone-headed interception that changed the tide against the home team. The Seahawks had 4 touchdowns on the ground, and the Niners were now 0-5. Marv Albert and and former Bronco Mike Haffner (who has apparently dropped off the face of the earth since) with the call.
Phil Simms throws for 300 yards and everyone talks about how much they hate Joe Thomas. Joe Montana continues to learn from the sideline.
Week 8: Falcons at 49ers
Bill Walsh gets his first win as NFL head coach. Freddie Solomon rushes for a touchdown, Paul Hofer rushes for 2 more, and Joe Montana completes a pass for negative 8 yards. Literally no highlights exist for this entire week 8 on the internet, like they wanted to hide Walsh's first win.
Week 9: Bears at 49ers
The defensive secondary lets DeBerg down again...and the Niners miss an opportunity for their first winning streak in the Walsh-Era.
Bob Costas and Roman Gabriel behind the mic on CBS (really) as Kenny Stabler and the Raiders battle DeBerg and the Niners. The Niners drop to 1-9, and continue to invent ways to beat themselves.
Chuck Muncie rumbles for 3 touchdowns, and Archie Manning and the Saints sweep the season-series.
Yet another missing game/highlight reel, yet another loss. And this is kind of a big one: Joe Montana's first NFL touchdown pass.
Vince Ferragamo and the eventual NFC Champions , aided by future 49er-champions Hacksaw Reynolds and Wendell Tyler (and some horrific officiating) pull away in San Fran. Nelson and Hornung on the call is great stuff.
2 more turnovers...another close loss. Paul Hornung wearing a fur, however.
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