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Before They Were Champions based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
'Before They Were Champions,' the unfolding of The San Francisco 49ers' 1958 Season, is not just the story of a football team coming of age, but a stirring, candid journal of a roller-coaster season flowing from the pen of a 49ers' fan who grew up in that period. The author, Martin Jacobs, who attended 49er games as a youngster, faithfully kept a diary and souvenirs from all the games. He unfolds the story directly from his memoirs, not allowing future events to color the moment-to-moment narration. He writes in an exciting style, using the 'present time' of each game--not from a past tense perspective. This involves the reader in a ¿You are there¿ experience, giving him the feeling that he is witnessing each game as it occurs. The 1958 season was a drama in extremes. The team had high expectations, especially after just missing going to the NFL title game in 1957. The team was stocked with five future Hall of Famers: Y.A. Tittle, Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny, Bob St. Clair, and Leo Nomellini. As Jacobs describes it, 'They had an offense good enough to win and a defense just good enough to lose.' During the season, the 49ers suffered their worst defeat ever at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams. Their owner, Vic Morabito, labeled them 'the worst 49er team ever' after a lopsided loss to the Bears. The season was marred by the big brawl with the Packers (when five players were ejected), by a quarterback controversy between Y.A. Tittle and John Brodie that lasted throughout the season, and by a season's tragic end when their legendary Head Coach, Frankie Albert, abruptly quit. Miraculously, the 49ers rebounded to earn respect by defeating the Eagles, Lions, Packers, and staging their most decisive victory against the World Champion Baltimore Colts, winners of the first overtime NFL Championship game. They amassed impressive record-breakers like Joe Perry's biggest rushing day of 174 yards against Detroit-- shattering Steve Van Buren's all-time rushing record for career rushing yards, and McElhenny's biggest day of 159 yards rushing against the powerful Packers' team. But those 49er wins, losses and memorable gamespaint only part of the picture in Jacobs' book. There was grand old Kezar Stadium, a mad house populated by 49er 'fanatics,' a place where the cold bite of the Pacific Ocean fog would cut right through your blood stream and chill your bones. It was the birthplace of the famed Y.A. Tittle to R.C.Owens' 'Alley-Oop' pass-plays and the epic site of the last quarter 'cliffhangers' to beat the Steelers, Eagles and Lions with an array of all-star rookies on the roster: Abe Woodson, Jimmy Pace, Charlie Kruger, Fred Dugan and Jerry Mertens battling to the very end. Jacobs book is stacked with action and replenished with 50-pages of photos from the 1958 season, which fans of that 49er generation will recall vividly. The brown tone photos throughout add to the nostalgic quality of the period about which the book is written from an avid eyewitness account.