That was the term my Dad used to describe the 49ers when I asked him as a young boy why he was a fan of the 49ers as opposed to the cross-town Oakland Raiders. My Dad told me that the 49ers were a colorful and entertaining team to watch.
I was 13 years old at the time and my Dad seemed particularly interested in the 49ers that season. It was 1970. Unbeknownst to me, the 49ers were about to begin a three year stretch of back-to-back-to-back NFC West Division Championships under then head coach Dick Nolan.
So, as my Dad watched and listened to games of his beloved 49ers that season, I began to watch and listen too. In earnest.
I remember the 49ers needing to win their final regular season game that year to even make the playoffs. As fate would have it, the 49ers final regular season opponent, the sole remaining team that stood between the 49ers and their first playoff appearance in 14 years was none other than their hated cross town rivals—the Oakland Raiders.
If that wasn’t enough, it was the first matchup EVER between these two Bay Area teams. The 49ers annihilated the Raiders 38-7 and won the NFC West Division.
The 1970 regular season ended with the 49ers headed to the playoffs against the Minnesota Vikings. I remember the stir in my living room as my entire family watched the 49ers take the icy cold field against the Vikings.
This was long before the era of heated indoor stadiums and the field conditions were frigid. Not only was it freezing cold, but the 49ers were about to face a team that had been nick-named the Purple People Eaters.
The upstart 49ers, a team from a comparably balmy San Francisco took the field in their short sleeved jerseys.
Most people didn’t think the 49ers even had a chance that day. This was the first time in the playoffs for the 49ers since the 1950s, and the Vikings had been in the playoffs for three straight years. The 49ers were 7 point underdogs that day.
The 49ers started the game in what my Dad would call typical fashion, falling behind early 7–0 after fumbling the ball away only to see it picked up in mid air and returned for a Minnesota touchdown. The 49ers then went on to score 17 unanswered points.
San Francisco's final score was a one yard run by quarterback John Brodie with only 1:20 remaining on the clock. It wouldn’t even be the final score of the game, as Minnesota scored a touchdown with only one second remaining to close the gap 17-14. Even in victory, the 49ers made it interesting giving up a score to end the game.
And thus began my love affair with the team who wears the colorful Red and Gold—the San Francisco 49ers.
To be continued...
This article was written in memory of my Father who passed away in March of this year. He was a 49ers faithful for sure and helped instill a love for the game of football in all of his sons. He played high school football at Sheridan High School in Sheridan, Montana.