San Francisco 49ers

NFC West

2017 Schedule

  • Week 1

    CAR @ SF


    4:30 pm

PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart

The PYRO Fantasy Football Depth Chart is a rundown of where Team PYRO projects the fantasy production for each team at each position. It is NOT an attempt to inform you of the current starters for each team. For example, we are well aware that Brandon Manumaleuna is currently the starting TE for the Chicago Bears, but if you look at the Bears Team Page, we have Greg Olsen listed at TE. Why? We’re projecting that Greg Olsen will be the most Fantasy Football relevant TE for the Bears this season. Since Olsen will be the Bears leading FF point scorer at TE, it’s his name at the top of the TE column on our PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart.

San Francisco 49ers - 2014 Preseason #FF Preview





The San Francisco 49ers are trying to kick a bad habit… losing down the stretch. Jim Harbaugh came aboard the organization in January of 2011. Since then, they have made it to the conference championship every single year. Close, but no cigar. In 2011, they lost the NFC championship to the Giants, the eventual Super Bowl champs. The next year, they made it to the big dance, but lost to the Ravens. In 2013, they made it to the conference championship again, only to lose to the eventual Super Bowl victors, the Seattle Seahawks. Losing is a tough habit to break. The question the 49ers TRIBE is asking… Can they kick it?





One thing to keep in mind with their running game. For the first half of the season, they have the 8th best strength of schedule. However, for the second half, they are rated #31 in rushing strength of schedule. So, if you draft a 49er RB, keep them in mind for a mid season trade. You might want to capitalize on the schedule. This type of fantasy goo is what is available for you on the Pyro draft kit. If you are looking for a weapon to bring into your draft room, look no further. When that all important day rolls around at the end of August, and the guy next to you pulls out a magazine published in early July, you will feel a Zen-like calm wash over you. Pyro’s draft kit gets updated 5 times, right up until the season opener. No matter when you buy the kit, you will be sent all the updates when they come out.



As James Brown almost said: “I don’t know karate, but I know (Kaepernick)”…. And so do you, thanks to this site. If you have been on the Pyro brand for awhile, you know the name Colin Kaepernick. D-rx called this one long before the Alex Smith injury, long before anyone was talking about him. I drafted him as a late round flier his 2012 season. He was not even drafted in most leagues. Although last season did not go as well as hoped for (sans week 1), Kaepernick ended up as the 9th best fantasy quarterback, with 264 total points.  Chances are, he will finish about the same spot this year. He completed 243 passes after 416 attempts. All in all, he had 3,197 yards through the air, and 21 TDs. He added 524 rushing yards and another 4 TDs on the ground. One big plus is his lack of INTs. Last year, he only threw 8 picks. This was the lowest for guys in the top 10 at the position. This only resulted in a loss of 16 total points. Heck, Andy Dalton lost 40 points for his interceptions (most for the top 10 at the position). This year, Kaepernick should run the ball more, as the team was perhaps a bit too cautious with him last year. Statistically, 19.7% of his total fantasy value came from his rushing yards. That’s what guys like Kaepernick and a Russell Wilson give you. However, we always stress “know your league”. If quarterbacks score the full 6 points for passing touchdowns, then a running quarterback is not as valuable, unless they are also throwing for 30 or more.


This year, a healthy Crabtree could spell fantasy success for Kaepernick. The two have an obvious chemistry. If Crabby can stay healthy all year, than fantasy QB #9 might just be Kaepernick’s floor. Plus, he is carrying a serious chip on his shoulder after coming so close the past few years, yet not getting that ring. Colin Kaepernick was back in the weight room 4 days after they lost to the Seahawks, the boy is determined and that equals fantasy goo. If James Brown was the hardest working man in show business, Kaepernick might be one of the hardest workers in the NFL.





Another factor in Kaepernick’s favor this year, he has his favorite target back. The Crabby-Patty cometh. Crabtree returned for the last five games of the regular season. If you ranked fantasy quarterbacks for just those weeks, Kaepernick was #5, right behind Nick Foles and ahead of Andrew Luck. The fact is, Crabtree is undoubtedly their #1 receiver and he boosts the performance of players around him. In 2014, Crabby-Patty will be looking to tear it up on the turf after missing the first 11 games last year. Plus, many Americans remember the Super Bowl as the play where Richard Sherman handed Crabtree his own ass. If that is not incentive enough, this is also a contract year for him, and Lord knows money is a motivator, especially for him. We all remember his holdout as a rookie. The 49ers have the 23rd easiest schedule for wide receivers, but they bump up to #14 during the fantasy playoffs. He was trending upwards last year. Once the team made it to the post season, he seemed to have his confidence back. In their three playoff games (including the Super Bowl), he scored a total of 3 touchdowns, and had 20 catches for 285 yards. Crabtree should pick it back up from where he left off. Pyro likes him as a solid WR #2. He is slightly undervalued in ADPs. As of early August, he is going at the end of the 4th round in 12 team leagues.


Crabtree’s on-field presence seems to up the play of his teammates. Anquan Boldin, when Crabtree was on the field for those last five games, was ranked the #9 fantasy wide receiver. Boldin does not receive enough accolades for his hands. In 2013, he caught 66.4% of his passes. Not only that, on average, Boldin was 9.21 yards downfield when he was targeted. That is almost 2 yards farther down field from where the average receiver was targeted. Plus, the league average catch rate is 58.6%. Boldin is a tough SOB. The dude played with a broken face.



Now, I have not had anything that severe, but I like to think I have what it takes. I once had a wicked paper cut. When we went out for tacos, I still used that hand to open the packet of hot sauce… A little bit got in there. I didn’t care. That’s just how I roll. But you have to give it up for Boldin.


The rest of the receiving crew consists mainly of Stevie Johnson, Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington, and Brandon Lloyd. It is hard to believe Lloyd was actually a top receiver just four years ago. Last year, he was not even in the league. Patton was a rookie in 2013, he started out with some promise, broke his foot in week four, and showed a little bit here and there in the end. He and Ellington have been talked about in camp. But, if I were putting money down, I would back Johnson. The best of this group, Jonson had a decent three year run. Last year was a down year as he was injured, but from 2010-2012 he broke 1,000 yards each year and totaled 23 receiving TDs in that same span. He should be on the field for most three receiver sets, and if anyone goes down with an injury, I think he can still put up a decent fantasy season. Chances are, someone might take a flier on him in the last round. Personally, you can get guys like him off the waivers, if I am taking a flyer, I like to swing for the fences.


The 49ers have a great deal of talent in their back field as well. If all of them were healthy, this would be one hell of a committee. But as of now, Kendall Hunter went unclaimed off waivers, thus he reverted back to San Fran. He is out for the season on IR.  He will rehab and hopes to return in 2015. Unless you run a deep roster in a dynasty league, don’t bother.  I don’t think he is worth eating up a roster spot for a full year. To continue with dynasty leagues, Marcus Lattimore has been burning up bench space for a year now. There is still no time table on his return. He is a good kid and people are holding out hope he may return to his dazzling South Carolina form. But it appears doubtful he sees time on the field this year. Harbaugh has gone on record saying he will be on the team in “some form or fashion”. Those are not exactly reassuring words for fantasy.  There is a chance he makes the PUP list, in which case, the earliest he could contribute would be game 7. Many times however, guys just coming off the PUP list do not see actual game time until weeks later. Odds are, Lattimore does not make a legitimate fantasy contribution until 2015. Keep your eyes on camp for this one.  Finally, the last of the walking wounded is LaMichael James. After dislocating his elbow, an injury that he has sustained three times, James is expected to be ready for the start of the season, but he is likely on ice until week 1.


So, essentially the last two men standing are Gore and rookie Carlos Hyde. If Lattimore is indeed saved for legitimate playing time in 2015, this would be Gore’s last real year as the main guy in San Fran. He is 31 years old. Because of the organizations success in the last three years, they have made deep runs into the playoffs. These added games have taxed his body. In that time, Gore has accumulated 1,035 touches. The average back has not taken the same abuse. Gore has proven amazingly resilient and has been fantasy relevant throughout his career. In seven out of the last eight seasons, he has rushed for over 1,000 yards. Even in the one down season, he still saw enough action in the receiving game to go over 1,200 all purpose yards. Frank “the tank” is a rarity in the NFL these days. There are few guys who are those 3-down backs anymore. While our Pyro proverbial hats are off to him, it is better to jump off early than go down with the ship. He is definitely a bust candidate this year. As of early August, he is going in the first part of the 5th round in 12 team leagues. I would rather draft Joique Bell, Pierre Thomas, or Lamar Miller all of whom are currently being drafted after Frank “the Tank”.



Frank the tank



The other back still firing on all cylinders is rookie Carlos Hyde. This guy is not going until the 9th round in current ADPs (as of early August). Both D-rx and Dawg have Hyde just one tier below Gore. That equals value. Coming from Ohio State, he was the Big Ten’s running back of the year. The conference is not what it once was, but the Buckeyes went up against some serious defenses last year, and Hyde put up some impressive stats. He ran the ball 208 times for a total of 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns. In case you have not updated your calculator app, he averaged 7.5 yards a carry. Let me say that again, 7.5 yards a carry was his average last season. He played in 11 games counting the bowl game. He rushed for over 100 yards in all but his first two games. He even cracked 200 yards twice. Hyde was the first running back taken in this year’s draft. Seriously, researching this guy got me so excited, when I retired for the evening, my wife thought I was making amorous advances. While you never want to tell your wife another lady got you excited, how the hell do you say, “no honey, it’s not you, it’s Carlos Hyde… I mean damn!”


Take a look at Hyde’s rushing ability from their first preseason game in 2014.


Last year, San Fran had the 11th best schedule for a tight end. This year they come in at #26. Vernon Davis ended up the #2 fantasy tight end last year. There is no way this is happening again. In fact, Smaug has a better chance of blazing it up as a fantasy tight end this year, and he’s a freakin’ mythical dragon!




Out of the top 10 rated fantasy tight ends last year, Vernon Davis was the most touchdown dependant. In fact, 48.4% of his fantasy points came from touchdowns. Looking at the exact same group, he had the least amount of receptions (52) and the least amount of targets (84). Don’t build a team on last year’s stats. Let the lumps in your league do that. They are the guys that look backwards, they are the guys that buy into the douche canoe sites, some of which are ranking Davis as their #4 tight end. His average ADP currently has him going as the 5th TE off the board, usually being picked in the 6th round for 12 teamers.


A side note on those aforementioned douche canoe sites. While indeed they supply all the lumps in your league with their outdated information, it is important to pay attention to those ratings, out of whack as they may be. Here’s how you can use it to your advantage when it comes to tiers. First, make Pyro tiers your own. Use them as a basis, but certainly make adjustments. You have to keep in mind your personal league and how they score. Also, maybe you have favorites, or want get a guy or two off your home team. Those tiers are a guide for you, they are not the Ten Commandments written on stone tablets.






Thou shall draft like this! So after you make some adjustments and make the tiers your own, I like to write down what the douche canoe site rates the players and place that ranking in parenthesis. 



Tier VI - 19 - 21
Eric Ebron (13)
Garrett Graham (23)
Jared Cook (24)




This will give me an edge. In the above example, my tier VI shows the three guys I feel are about equal. Yet, the douche canoe site clearly ranks Ebron at the #13 spot, way above the other two guys. So I have a fairly good idea that Graham and Cook are going to be hanging around for awhile. I can go ahead and use my pick at another position, because chances are, Graham and Cook are still going to be waiting for me next time around. Remember on draft day, you want to use any bit of info you can to give you an advantage.


Now, Davis is entering his 9th year. He has been dependable, only missing 9 games in 8 years. But he does have an interesting back up. If you had a working flex capacitor and the 1.21 gigi-watts necessary to fire up that bad boy, you would see that Vance McDonald was on Pyro’s deep sleeper list last year. He was a rookie so naturally he did not get much playing time. But he does become an interesting waiver wire grab if Davis happens to miss any time.




Finally, they are an NFC West team and that means a big time defense.  Again, while defensive fantasy production is so hard to predict, they are definitely one of the better real defenses in the league. With their talent, they should end up inside the top five if not the top three (if healthy). However, they will play the first portion of the season without some of their brightest stars. NaVorro Bowman tore his ACL in the NFC Championship game last year. It was one of those injuries that almost hurts to watch, the human body is not supposed to bend certain ways. Currently he is on the PUP list. If he begins the season there, he will not be eligible until week 7. Glenn Dorsey, their nose tackle, is also out for the first portion of the season. Finally, they should be without Aldon Smith for some time as well. These losses will undoubtedly be felt on the field. If so, we could see them fall outside the top 5 for fantasy. Aldon Smith is awaiting a suspension decision by the henchman, Roger Goodell. The comish has made some curious decisions as of late, so who knows how long the Smith suspension will be. Personally, I think Goodell went light on Ray Rice because he using that to set up an even lighter slap on the wrist for disgraced Colts owner, Jim Irsay. Although Irsay’s actions may have given a black eye to the organization and the league, he is still the kind of guy I want to roll into Vegas with on a Friday night.  






By Mo 

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The Catch

the catch - dwight clark

The history of the National Football League is filled with many great players, teams, coaches and iconic moments.  The most iconic moments in the game involve all of the above.  One of the most iconic moments in the game was “the catch”. 

In 1981 the San Francisco 49ers were facing the Dallas Cowboys, a team that had dominated the NFC in the 1970’s.  The 49ers had hired Bill Walsh in 1979 following a 2-14 season and he made Joe Montana the starter in 1980 and in 1981 they found themselves facing America’s Team for a chance to go to Super Bowl XVI.  It was Walsh facing off against Tom Landry and Joe Montana facing off against the Doomsday Defense.

The game was an epic battle that went back and forth.  In the 4th quarter the 49ers were trailing 27-21 when they took over with the ball at their own 11 yard line.  Joe Montana, as he became famous for doing, led the 49ers down the field until they were at the Cowboys 6 yard line with 58 seconds left and facing a crucial 3rd down play.  The 49ers went to a play that worked for a TD earlier in the game; the play is famously called Sprint Right Option.  The intended target was Freddie Solomon, but the Cowboys smelled it out and had him completely covered.  Montana had to look elsewhere, but he was under heavy pressure from D.D. Lewis, Larry Bethea and the 6 foot 9 inch Ed “Too Tall” Jones.  Montana continued to back pedal and looked like he was going to throw the ball away when he pump faked and got Jones to jump and then threw a high pass to the back of the end zone that was grabbed by a leaping Dwight Clark by his fingertips to score the go ahead TD, “The Catch”. 

The Cowboys had a chance to with 51 seconds left and only needing a FG, but Danny White, the Cowboys quarterback, was sacked and fumbled the ball spoiling their chances.  The 49ers went on the win Super Bowl XVI over the Bengals and became the team of 1980’s and won 3 more Super Bowls.  The reason this catch became so famous also has to do with NFL Films.  It was NFL Films that had the camera down behind the endzone that caught the best view of the catch.  I was 7 years old when “The Catch” occurred and watching the replays and seeing how amazing the shot was of Montana throwing over Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Clark making the improbable catch just blew me away, and it still does to this day.  The catch made by David Tyree of the Giants in Super Bowl XLII was great but Montana to Clark is and will always be “The Catch”.



By Houdini

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Bill Walsh "The Genius"

bill walsh and a young joe montana

There have been many great coaches in the long history of the NFL and each generation has a coach that helps to define the time and change the game.  In the current generation it is Bill Belichick who is considered the genius, but the Real Genius in my mind was Bill Walsh. 
Bill Walsh took over as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers following the 1979 season and quickly built the 49ers into the Dynasty of the 1980’s.  He won 3 Super Bowl’s (XVI, XVIIII, and XXIII), helped to innovate the offensive game with his West Coast Offense and left a legacy of a coaching tree that just adds to his greatness.    In his 10 seasons as the 49ers head coach he amassed a record of 102-63-1, with 10 wins in 14 postseason games.  The 49ers won 10 or more games and made the playoffs in 7 of his final 8 seasons and were the juggernaut in the NFC.  He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

The reason Bill Walsh was call “The Genius” was due to his innovation of the West Coast offense (even though he always hated the name and never used it).  When Walsh took over in San Francisco the NFL model was to have a good running game and a solid defense.  The idea was you set up the pass with the run, but what if you did not have a running back that could carry the ball 25+ times a game effectively?    Walsh had the answer and that was set up the run with the pass. 

The norm for the passing game in the NFL dealt with 5, 7 or even 9 step drop backs, which was a major issue if you did not have the strongest offensive line.  The other norm was that you would have at most 3 options in the passing game with your two wide receivers and your tight end.  Walsh threw all of this out the window and in the end his innovation changed the professional game. 

There were three main principals to his offense:  protect the quarterback, time the pass and use multiple receivers including your running backs.  The other main innovation was going to a three step drop which would force the quarterback to get rid of the ball quicker and not let the pass rush have a chance.  There were also at least 4 if not 5 options for the quarterback in the offense.  The routes they ran were shorter slant routes and precise timing routes so that Joe Montana would throw the ball to the spot before Jerry Rice made his cut.  Utilizing these shorter drop backs and slant routes Walsh was able to ensure protection for Joe Montana.

Montana was the perfect quarterback for the offense because he was so cerebral was able to process all the options in the offense with ease.  Montana and Walsh are forever linked for the greatness they were able to achieve together.  Walsh also knew he needed to have the right weapons around Montana to make the offense work. 

Having Roger Craig in the backfield was the perfect guy for Walsh and Montana.  Craig was tough enough to run the ball inside but also had great hands and was a deadly receiver.  Craig became the first player to ever run 1,000 yards while also having 1,000 yards receiving in the same season.

The tight end position was the other key to the offense.  Dwight Clark was another player that fit Walsh’s system to a tee.  Clark was big enough to put on the line and block defensive ends, which allowed the running game in the system.  Clark was also a huge weapon in the passing game, as the offense threw most of its passes up the middle of the field.  Then all you need is one more piece.

Jerry Rice, the Greatest Of All Time, made the offense click on a whole new level when he arrived.  The wide receivers in the passing game needed to catch short passes and break them for longer gains.  It was a ball control type of passing game that made it easy to pick up 5 yards easily.  Rice was able to take a 5 yard pass and turn it into an 80 yard TD. 

Walsh proved that he was always one step ahead of everyone else as he dominated the 80’s with his 3 Super Bowls over a 7 year span.  The 49ers were always relevant.  The thing about Walsh was that he mentored such an amazing group of assistant coaches that went on to great success as head coaches.  Just check out this coaching tree of Walsh below.

Bill Walsh coachig tree

This just showed what kind of a coach Walsh was, that he included his assistants to the point that he was trying to get them hired for other jobs.  He empowered everyone around him from his assistant coaches to his players to everyone he dealt with in his life. 

Bill Walsh passed away from Leukemia at 75 years old in 2007.  He was taken too soon but we can be thankful for the legacy he left and what he did for the game.   Walsh also created the Minority Coaching Fellowship program in 1987, which helped minority coaches get a foothold in a white dominated profession.  Marvin Lewis was among those who went through the program.  Walsh was always about giving back and helping others.

As you watch football now and see all the wide open passing and the scat back running backs that are catching passes all over the place you can think back and think what the game would look like today if Bill Walsh had not come along.  All I know is that I would not be as interested in that game.

By Houdini

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Deion Sanders One and Done with the 49ers

Primetime on the  49ers

Deion Sanders became a free agent after 5 years with Atlanta Falcons and signed a one year deal with the 49ers.  Prime Time had what could be argued the best season in his illustrious career. 

It is very safe to say that Neon Deion Prime Time Sanders comes with a lot of bravado and ego.  The team he came to in San Francisco was put together with the sole purpose of winning the Super Bowl.  Prime Time was the missing piece on the defense and he provided the shut down corner that helped change games and win the title.  That would cause friction in the off season as Jerry Rice felt the media gave all the credit to Sanders and not the rest of the players in the locker room.  Sanders left after that year and the 49ers did not win another Super Bowl, maybe they were right. 

In 1994 Deion Sanders was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.  Sanders had 6 interceptions during the year along with an NFL best 303 interception return yards.  The moment of the season for Prime Time was his return to the Georgia Dome.  First Sanders gets into an altercation with his former teammate Andre “Bad Moon” Rison, and then he made his impact on the game.  Jeff George had the Falcons inside the 15 yard line when he made a pass toward the sideline at the 6 yard line that was intercepted by Sanders and returned 94 yards for a TD.  As he was running down the sideline, which happened to be the Falcons sideline, he had his arm out and looking at all the player before high stepping into the endzone doing his Prime Time dance. 



By Houdini

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Fred Dean

fred dean

Fred Dean was a dominant defensive lineman in the NFL from 1975-1985.  Dean split his career between San Diego, who drafted him, and the San Francisco 49ers.  Dean’s presence on the defensive line was felt throughout his career.

When Dean was drafted by the Chargers he was moved from linebacker to the defensive line.  His speed and agility made an immediate impact as he made 93 tackles and 7 sacks and 4 fumble recoveries in his rookie year.  His best season as a member of the Chargers was in 1978 when he recorded 15.5 sacks and helped to add balance to the Chargers high flying offense.  Dean’s real impact on the Chargers defense was shown when he was traded to the 49ers.  The Chargers defense fell apart when Dean left and would take years to rebuild. 

Just being traded from one team to another is something, but in the History of the NFL this was a significant trade, due to the fact that it occurred mid-season.  The other stunning part about the trade was that Dean was a man possessed for the 49ers and while playing only 11 games for them was named the NFC Defensive player of the year.

The most telling point for the impact felt was in his first game for the 49ers.  Dean was only able to practice with the team twice before facing the Dallas Cowboys, who were the team to beat in the NFC.  He put pressure on Dallas QB Danny White all day and sacked him 3 times.  Dean only built the legend as the 49ers faced the Rams the following week and Dean led the 49ers to their first win over the Rams at Candlestick Park while recording 5 sacks.  He would finish the season with 12 sacks for the 49ers in 11 games.  That year the 49ers would also go on to win the Super Bowl (XVI).  It is fair to say that if Dean was not traded to the 49ers, they would not have made the Super Bowl. 

Dean would win another Super Bowl (XIX) with the 49ers, but he had his best year in 1983.  He led the NFC with 17 sacks and at the time held the single game record with his 6 sack performance against the New Orleans Saints in a 27-0 victory.  Sacks were not an official stat when Dean started in the league, but his unofficial career sack total has been argued to be between 93 and 97.  Dean was named to 4 Pro Bowls (1980-82, 1984) and while he played for both the Chargers and 49ers he will always be remembered as a 49er.

By Houdini

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Anthony “Tony” Morabito

tony morabito

Anthony J. “Tony” Morabito was the founder of the San Francisco 49ers.  Morabito had made some good money in the lumber hauling in the 1930’s and early 1940’s in the San Francisco area.  He had a realization that air travel would make it possible to expand the NFL for coast to coast rivalries.  That is what inspired him to found the San Francisco 49ers.

Morabito had been rejected for a few years when he got a meeting with in 1944 with the league commissioner and one of Notre Dame’s legendary Four Horsemen.  They patronized Morabito in the meeting and the lasting impression for Morabito was that he was told “Well, sonny, you better go out and get a football first and then come back.” according to Al Ruffo (longtime friend, teammate, business partner and lawyer).  Morabito did not take kindly to being called “sonny” so he walked across the street to meet with Arch Ward, the sports editor from the Chicago Tribune, who was organizing the All-American Football Conference (AAFC).  Morabito told him he wanted to join the league.  The league had its first meeting on June 6th, 1944 (D-Day), in St. Louis.  They decided the league would begin after the war ended.

On October 27th, 1957, Anthony Morabito died of a heart attack while watching his 49ers play the Chicago Bears at Kezar Stadium.  Morabito had suffered a coronary occlusion in 1952 and had been told he was living on borrowed time.  His doctors did not want him watch or be part of football anymore because of the high emotional factors and the toll it would take on Morabito.  Morabito, though, loved the game of football and could not leave it behind.  He suffered a heart attack during the game and was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.  The 49ers were trailing 17-7 at halftime when the team got word of what happened to Morabito.  The football team was notified by a note that was sent to the coach that read “Tony’s gone”.  The 49ers rallied that day and shut down the Bears on the rest of their offensive possessions and in the 4th quarter they surged over the Bears en route to a 21-17 upset victory.  Morabito definitely played a part in that win. 

Morabito is the reason the San Francisco 49ers came into existence, and his passing showed the same determination that he brought to bring a franchise to San Francisco. 

By Houdini

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Leo “The Lion” Nomellini

Leo “The Lion” Nomellini was the first every NFL draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers.  Nomellini was the face of the organization in the early days and will always be remembered by 49er fans for his brilliant 14 year career. 

Nomellini had never seen a football game played when he played the game for the first time, while in the Marines.  He went to college at the University of Minnesota and was an All-American tackle twice.  He was a beast, at 6’3” and 260 pounds, in the era he played in. 

As a member of the 49ers he played in 174 straight regular season games and including all his appearances, played in 266 professional games.  That is a pretty stunning number when you consider the violent nature of the game during the 50’s and early 60’s.  Then you have to realize just how tough this guy was, as he played on both the offensive and defense lines, a true two way player.  Not only was he as two way player, he was the first ever player to be named All-NFL on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.  He was also named to the Pro Bowl 10 times and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969. 

The other interesting fact about “The Lion” was his occupation during the offseason.  He was a professional wrestler, so the nickname of “The Lion” was a perfect fit, and wrestled against Lou Thesz who was the Hulk Hogan of his era.  So you see professional football players have had a fascination with wrestling going way back. 

The Lion throwing down against Lou Thesz

By Houdini

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From the AAFL to the NFL

Anthony J. “Tony” Morabito was the founder of the San Francisco 49ers.  Morabito had made some good money in the lumber hauling in the 1930’s and early 1940’s in the San Francisco area.  He had a realization that air travel would make it possible to expand the NFL for coast to coast rivalries.  That is what inspired him to found the San Francisco 49ers.

Morabito had been rejected for a few years when he got a meeting with in 1944 with the league commissioner and one of Notre Dame’s legendary Four Horsemen.  They patronized Morabito in the meeting and the lasting impression for Morabito was that he was told “Well, sonny, you better go out and get a football first and then come back.” according to Al Ruffo (longtime friend, teammate, business partner and lawyer).  Morabito did not take kindly to being called “sonny” so he walked across the street to meet with Arch Ward, the sports editor from the Chicago Tribune, who was organizing the All-American Football Conference (AAFC).  Morabito told him he wanted to join the league.  The league had its first meeting on June 6th, 1944 (D-Day), in St. Louis.  They decided the league would begin after the war ended.

In 1946 the 49ers became part of the All-America Football Conference.  The 49ers, the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Colts were the best teams in the league.  The other members of the league were the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers, Buffalo Bison’s, Miami Seahawks, Chicago Rockets and the Los Angeles Dons.   The Browns were the class of the league with the 49ers being a close second.  The league expanded football, the way Morabito hoped it would, to cities and areas that had previously been left out by the NFL. 

The AAFC lasted until 1949 when the league dissolved.  The NFL saw many good things in what the AAFC was trying to do, and poached three of the best teams from the league to join the NFL in 1950.  The 49ers, Browns and Colts were the teams that the NFL brought in.  I know you thought it was going to be the Miami Seahawks, so did Jackie Moon. 

By Houdini

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Len Eshmont Award

the fordham flash

Len Eshmont was one of the great men of the game in the early days.  He played his college ball at Fordham 1936-1940 and was known as the “Fordham Flash”.  He then played one year with the New York Giants before joining armed forces in 1942.  While serving in the Navy as a physical education instructor he also played on Navy’s football teams and was named All-Service for 3 straight years, the only player to do so. 

After leaving the Navy he found himself in San Francisco and hooked up with the 49ers of the AAFC.  Eshmont, Frankie Albert, Norm Standlee and John Stryzkalski provided the 49ers with one of the best running attacks in their league.  It seems like a lot of guys in the backfield, but most of the game was running the ball back then.    He averaged 5 yards per carry in his career with the 49ers. 

Eshmont passed away in May of 1957 due to a hepatitis infection.  After his death the 49ers created The Len Eshmont Award, which is given to the 49er player that best exemplifies the “inspirational and courageous play” of Len Eshmont. 

By Houdini

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