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COMMENTARY : Winning Would Bring Respite, but Only Briefly

NEWSDAY

He is the 49er coach who followed Bill Walsh, which is the same in San Francisco as if George Seifert had followed Vince Lombardi. Everyone always talks about the shadow of Joe Montana, and how it threatened to swallow up a sweetheart guy like Steve Young.

Seifert still has to go up against Walsh. There is always another game Seifert must win to prove he is worthy.

He gets another game like that Sunday. Seifert better win, or he will be called a bum. There isn’t a big guy anywhere in sports who gets so little respect.

And Seifert does not just have to worry about Walsh now. He also is forced to look over his shoulder at Mike Shanahan, his own offensive coordinator, because Shanahan is supposed to be the kind of young offensive genius Walsh once was. There was even a story earlier this season that Seifert would be on his way out if he could not get back to another Super Bowl, and that Shanahan would get his job. This only means that small sports towns like San Francisco can be as hysterical as New York.

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“Maybe when George wins the game on Sunday,” Walsh was saying Thursday afternoon, “people will finally figure out he is putting together one of the great coaching records in history.”

They were running polls in San Francisco early in the season about whether fans wanted Seifert or Jimmy Johnson. Seifert got killed, 85%-15%.

He is a San Francisco kid, but even in his hometown, Seifert still gets treated like Walsh’s caddy. It happens this way sometimes, and you can’t stop it. But Walsh is right. Seifert is one of the great coaches. If he can win another Super Bowl, his job probably won’t be in trouble until at least next fall.


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