Super Bowl contenders are not built overnight. They are built line upon line, player upon player, talent upon character. The San Francisco 49ers know all about Super Bowl contention, having won a league-best five so far.
Looking at the 49ers’ first Super Bowl victory, it becomes painfully clear how they were so successful. Every foundation must start with solid, if unspectacular, players. Core players such as Randy Cross, Lawrence Pillars and Freddie Solomon weren’t household names. But they were leadership, they were intangibles, they were the re-bar and cement that formed the foundation.
And Bill Walsh knew it was time to build upon that very groundwork. Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds, Fred Dean, Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana, and Dwight Clark led the list of bricks and mortar that defined the walls of success: Players who made plays, men who shone brilliantly.
Could Joe Montana have thrown “The Catch” in 1981 if it weren’t for Randy Cross and the rest of the offensive line? I highly doubt it. Could the 49ers have won five Super Bowls on the shoulders of Paul Hofer? It’s possible, but very unlikely. And this is the point: Foundation will not win alone.
The 2008 San Francisco 49ers are a team of blue-collar players, lunch pail-toting men who plug in their work and go home. That is the beginning of foundation.
Players like Nate Clements, Shaun Hill, and even Mark Roman fill the bill of lading on “character” players. Yet something is lacking from this team. A certain flair for the dramatic, the flash-in-the-pan-type playmakers are void on this roster.
This author submits to you that the hated Dallas Cowboys have stumbled upon what Bill Walsh found out so long ago. Teams are built upon foundations, but the walls are what you look at.
Terrell Owens is the type of dynamic missing. Tank Johnson is the force that is lacking. And Pacman Jones is the flamboyance left to be desired. And how does that locker room stay in one piece? The foundation is what keeps the walls standing.
This author isn’t stating that the 49ers should go out and pick up every troublemaker on the planet. We have the disasters of Lawrence Phillips and Antonio Bryant to remind us of how those types of experiments turn out. But now that the core, the structure is firmly entrenched, how about building some walls?
Scot McCloughan needs to stop looking for the re-bar. He needs to find some bricks and mortar that Mike Singletary can build with. The head coach single-handedly turned Vernon Davis from a whiny, emotional child into a growing playmaker in just one game. That, my friends, is how to deal with ego.
Enough with the safe bets. Enough with the Kentwan Balmers and the Alex Smiths. Coming out of college, Joe Montana was thought to be a product of the system he led, with a weak arm and poor speed. How many scouts are kicking themselves now?
We need more Frank Gores and Josh Morgans, players with loads of talent that just need a little polishing. We need more Patrick Willises and Joe Staleys.
Don’t take it from this author. Look at every Super Bowl winner ever. This is how championships are won.