Seifert began his coaching career in 1964, as a 24-year-old graduate assistant at Utah. He had been an offensive guard and linebacker at the school. In 1965, Seifert was named head coach at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Just one season later, he took an assistant coaching position at Iowa, then at Oregon (1967-71).
STANFORD IN '72
Seifert, a native of San Francisco who grew up in the Mission District, returned to the Bay Area to become secondary coach at
Stanford from 1972-75. Under Seifert, the Cardinal's defensive backfield was the best in the Pac-8 for two seasons. In 1975, he left to become head coach at Cornell, then returned to Stanford in 1977 to work for Bill Walsh as a secondary coach.
REUNION WITH WALSH
Walsh became 49ers head coach in 1979, and Seifert joined him one season later -- again as a secondary coach. Three seasons later, Seifert was promoted to defensive coordinator. In 1987, the 49ers' defense finished No. 1 in the NFL -- the first time it had ever done that. ``He is not a light, quick-witted, amusing type of coach,'' said Walsh of Seifert, ``but a very demanding, no-nonsense, business-oriented man who quickly gets the respect of players because of his expertise and willingness to work long hours.''
NEW 49ERS COACH
When Walsh retired as coach after the 1988 season, the 49ers considered Seifert but also mulled hiring Jimmy Johnson, then at the University of Miami. At the time, Eddie DeBartolo wanted to ``make a splash'' by hiring a ``big-name coach,'' but decided on Seifert, who was Walsh's personal choice. Seifert turned down a head-coaching overture from the Browns to remain with the 49ers. Linebacker Michael Walter talked about the pressure on Seifert following in the footsteps of Walsh, who won three Super Bowls with the team. ``It could be tough for him,'' said Walter. ``If we start out this year and at some point lose two in a row, like we did last year, I hope people aren't too quick to jump on coach Seifert. I hope people are patient. If a couple of things go wrong early in the season, it's not always coaching.''
In Seifert's first season, the 49ers finished the regular season 14-2, then raced through the playoffs to Super Bowl XXIV, which they won by obliterating the Denver Broncos 55-10. Seifert became just the second NFL rookie head coach in history to win a Super Bowl, joining Don McCafferty, who won with the Baltimore Colts in 1970. Seifert's 14 regular-season wins were the most-ever for an NFL rookie coach.
SUPER BOWL DROUGHT
In 1990, 1992 and 1993, the 49ers compiled impressive regular-season records, only to be stopped in the postseason. In 1990, the 49ers went a league-best 14-2, then lost in the NFC title game to the New York Giants -- a game clinched when running back Roger Craig fumbled in the last minutes. In 1991, the 49ers finished in third place in the NFC West at 10-6 -- out of the running for the playoffs. In 1992, the 49ers lost in the NFC championship game to Dallas 30-20. And in 1993, deja vu: The Cowboys won the NFC title game, this time 38-21 in Dallas.
`SUPER BOWL OR BUST'
DeBartolo -- determined not to fall short again to the Cowboys -- acquired a swarm of free agents for the 1995 season, lead by Deion Sanders, Ken Norton Jr. and Gary Plummer. The pressure on Seifert to win another Super Bowl was enormous, but Seifert and the 49ers came through, climaxing with their 49-26 victory over San Diego in Super Bowl XXIX. The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and Pro Football Weekly all named Seifert coach of the year. ``To convince all those cynics still yearning for Montana and Walsh,'' the New York Times wrote, ``the 49ers had to win with Young the quarterback on Seifert's team.''
PACKERS UNDERCUT 49ERS, SEIFERT
Two straight seasons, two straight 49ers postseason losses to the Packers. In 1995, Brett Favre -- under Green Bay quarterbacks coach Steve Mariucci -- had a record year, which continued into the postseason with a 27-17 first-round victory over the 49ers. The Packers would fall in the championship game to Dallas that season, after which Mariucci would take the head coaching job at Cal. Favre continued to perform brilliantly this season, with the Packers again eliminating the 49ers from the playoffs two weeks ago. In his last season, Seifert won his 100th game faster than any coach in NFL history, just as he had won Games 50 and 75. He finishes with the highest winning coaching percentage in NFL history, and with more victories than anyone in 49ers history, including Bill Walsh.