Artifact of the Game: 49ers vs. Chargers
Chargers and 49ers Share Hall of Fame Link
By Joe Hession, 49ers Museum historian
The football fortunes of the 49ers and San Diego Chargers are deeply intertwined. Bill Walsh, Dan Fouts and Fred Dean are among a handful of Pro Football Hall of Famers with links to both clubs.
Coach Walsh launched the 49ers dynasty after studying and refining the passing schemes of former Chargers coaches Sid Gillman and Don Coryell. Walsh tinkered with Gillman’s offensive system and added short passes which eventually led to the West Coast Offense.
Before joining the 49ers as head coach in 1979, Walsh spent the 1976 season as the Chargers offensive coordinator where he tutored Dan Fouts on the finer points of quarterbacking. Fouts, a San Francisco native who attended St. Ignatius High School, turned the Chargers into a perennial playoff contender under Coryell. Fouts spent his teenage years on the 49ers sideline as a ball boy while his father, Bob Fouts, served as a 49ers game broadcaster. Dan Fouts and his mentor, Bill Walsh, were enshrined together at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
The 49ers acquisition of defensive end Fred Dean from San Diego midway through the 1981 season was the final piece to the Bill Walsh Super Bowl puzzle. Dean joined the 49ers just three days before a key contest with the Cowboys and paid immediate dividends, recording three sacks of Dallas quarterback Danny White. Dean finished the 1981 season with 13 sacks and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Year as the 49ers won Super Bowl XVI. In 2008 Dean was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The 49ers and Chargers shared a moment of Super Bowl glory together after the 1994 season but the game itself was a mismatch from the start. Steve Young put on one of the greatest performances in Super Bowl history throwing six touchdown passes in a 49-26 victory at Super Bowl XXIX. San Francisco scored two touchdowns on its first seven plays and needed only four minutes to post a 14-0 lead. The offense executed flawlessly throughout the day as Jerry Rice and Ricky Watters each scored three times. A jubilant Young was crowned MVP after the win and the 49ers carved a place in football history becoming the first team to win five Super Bowls.
Visit the 49ers Museum presented by Sony and stroll past the re-creation of Bill Walsh’s office or through the Super Bowl Gallery where five Lombardi trophies are displayed. For more information on Museum tickets, hours and content, visit levisstadium.com/Museum. For group pricing call 415-GO-49ERS.