A link to the 49ers’ glorious past approves of two of the moves the franchise has made in its quest for a brighter future.
George Seifert, 70, who had a 98-30 record and won two Super Bowl titles in San Francisco, had Niners offensive coordinator Greg Roman on his staff and coached Jim Harbaugh during his career-ending, three-year tenure in Carolina from 1999-2001.
Roman, 38, served as an offensive assistant and assistant offensive line coach under Seifert. In 2001, Harbaugh finished his 15-year career as a backup quarterback in Carolina.
Roman is expected to share play-calling duties with Harbaugh as the 49ers implement the West Coast Offense. Roman was introduced to the system under Seifert, who brought the offense with him from San Francisco.
“You could tell when I was with him at his younger stage in his career that if things worked out right for him, and he got a break here and there, that he would someday be in the position that he’s in right now,” Seifert said. “I expect him to do quite well.”
Roman, who was in his late 20s during Seifert’s tenure, was younger than at least 12 Panthers in 2001, including three of the offensive linemen he coached. Roman broke into the NFL in 1995, less than two years after graduating from John Carroll University, a Division III school in Ohio. Roman, a defensive lineman, was a two-year starter in college.
Despite Roman’s youth and modest playing pedigree, Seifert says he earned the Panthers’ respect because his football intellect overshadowed any perceived limitations.
“They had a sense that he could help them become better and when they feel that way, they don’t care what your background is,” Seifert said. “If you can help them get better, then away you go. So he presented that type of an image.”
Seifert said he wasn’t surprised Harbaugh dove headlong into coaching after his playing career. Harbaugh worked as an unpaid assistant for his father, Jack, at Western Kentucky during his final eight seasons in the NFL. Seifert said he was struck by Harbaugh’s passion for the game.
“He was a fiery competitor and I have followed his (coaching) career,” Seifert said. “I think they could not have made a better hire.”