For Vikings wide receivers coach George Stewart, the 2009 season marks his third campaign with Minnesota and his 21st year on an NFL sideline. Having previously coached in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, San Francisco and Atlanta, Stewart has a proven track record of working with top-notch collegiate and NFL talent.
Throughout Stewart’s coaching career, he has been fortunate to learn from some of the game’s all-time greats, beginning both his playing and early coaching careers under college legend Lou Holtz. Stewart got his start in coaching as an Arkansas graduate assistant, working with the Razorbacks’ tight ends in 1983 working with Holtz.
When Holtz came to the Minnesota Golden Gophers to head coach in 1984, Stewert followed suit and became the teams offensive line coach. his first exposure to the state where he would return in 2007.
In two shorts seasons, Holtz and his staff quickly turned the Gophers program around, finishing 7-5 in 1985 and winning the Independence Bowl over Clemson, the first bowl victory for the Gophers since the 1962 Rose Bowl.
Before making the move to the NFL, Stewart spent several years in the college ranks, making his final stop as the Notre Dame linebackers coach from 1986-88. Under Holtz’s tutelage, the Irish steadily improved from the coach’s opening season in ‘86 to become national champions in 1988, a year in which the team finished 12-0 and defeated West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.
The stingy Irish defense allowed opponents to score over 20 points only twice during the season. Stewart’s unit, which included Arnold Ale and Andre Jones highlighted by consensus All-America choice Frank Stams played a prominent role in the defensive success.
Stewart’s first taste of NFL coaching came with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1989-91, as he served as the special teams coach on Chuck Noll’s staff. In his debut season in 1989, Stewart helped Rod Woodson earn a Pro Bowl berth as a kickoff return man. Following his three seasons with Pittsburgh, Stewart went on to spend four years working with the special teams unit in Tampa Bay, where he helped K Mike Husted earn All-Rookie honors in 1993.
Stewart was then hired to the San Francisco 49ers’ as a wide receivers coach and was a large of part of their success from 1996-2002, as the team advanced to the playoffs five times in those seven seasons. In 1997, the 49ers won the NFC West with a 13-3 mark and eventually lost to Green Bay in the NFC Championship game.
During that time, Stewart tutored the 49ers wide receiving corps and helped elevate each of Terrell Owens, J.J. Stokes and Tai Streets performances, with Owens making Pro Bowl appearances in three straight seasons from 2000-02 as well as earning consensus All-Pro honors in each of those years.
It was in 2003 that Stewert found himself in Atlanta as the Falcons wide receivers coach. He was most remembered there for his contributions to the Falcons 2004 NFC South division title and the work of Jenkins, Lelie and Roddy White.
In 2007, Stewert was brought into Minnesota to rebuild a receiving core to its former glory of the late 90's. Stewart had the challenge of coaching a unit that included 4 fresh faces in Allison, Ferguson, Rice and Wade. Nonetheless, each of the new players found success under Stewart’s tutelage.
While Wade set career-highs with 54 receptions and 647 receiving yards, Ferguson finished with his 2nd-best season, pulling in 32 catches for 391 yards, and Rice led the team with 4 receiving TDs. Rice, who ranked 3rd on the team with 31 catches for 396 yards, was second among NFL rookies with 4 TDs.
Stewart has a bachelor’s degree in education from Arkansas and is a native of Little Rock, AR, where he graduated from Parkview High School in 1977.