49ers Year-by-Year: 1962

Date:

Opponent:

Score:

Record:

Opponent's Record:

Sept. 16

Chicago Bears

L: 30-14

0-1

1-0

Sept. 23

@ Detroit Lions

L: 24-45

0-2

2-0

Sept. 30

Minnesota Vikings

W: 7-21

1-2

0-3

Oct. 7

@ Baltimore Colts

W: 21-13

2-2

2-2

Oct. 14

@ Chicago Bears

W: 34-27

3-2

3-2

Oct. 21

@ Green Bay Packers

L: 13-31

3-3

6-0

Oct. 28

Los Angeles Rams

L: 28-14

3-4

1-6

Nov. 4

Baltimore Colts

L: 22-3

3-5

4-4

Nov. 11

Detroit Lions

L: 38-24

3-6

7-2

Nov. 18

@ Los Angeles Rams

W: 24-17

4-6

1-9

Nov. 25

@ St. Louis Cardinals

W: 24-17

5-6

2-8-1

Dec. 2

@ Minnesota Vikings

W: 35-12

6-6

2-9-1

Dec. 9

Green Bay Packers

L: 31-21

6-7

12-1

Dec. 15

Cleveland Browns

L: 13-10

6-8

7-6-1

Head Coach: Red Hickey

Key Losses: SE R. C. Owens, C Frank Morze.

Key Additions: DE Clark Miller.

Discussion:

I latched onto the kicking. So, kickers. No real structure, just kickers. There are people who argue that the kicker shouldn't be a part of the game, and I understand this. I disagree with it, but I understand it. To me, the value of having a 3 point play as well as the 6 point play far outweighs the negatives of having a guy who plays less than five minutes a game potentially deciding the Super Bowl [read more below].

Prior to the 1962 season, the NFL inked an annual $4.65 million deal with CBS to have the station broadcast all of the league's regular season games, taking the league to a level with mass media that it had never approached before. Also significant in the 1962 season was a change to the facemask rule that prohibited the grabbing of any player's facemask, as opposed to the previous incarnation in which you could only grab the ball carrier's facemask.

1961 had been a frustrating year to be a 49er fan. It was the first full season of transition between former starting quarterback Y. A. Tittle and the younger, up and coming star of John Brodie. Brodie and the 49ers' offense struggled to find a true rhythm until late in the season, finishing with a 7-6-1 record that reflected the team's inconsistencies. Meanwhile, Tittle found himself in the NFL Championship game for the first time in his career, while Brodie and the 49ers watched from home. At the same time, it had been a strong year for many of the starters. R. C. Owens had received for over 1000 yards for the only time in his career. Rookie HB/QB hybrid Billy Kilmer ran for the second most touchdowns in the league. HB J. D. Smith had the second most productive season of his esteemed career to date. And John Brodie's second half improvements were as visible as they were encouraging.

And even with the loss of leading receiver and local favorite R. C. Owens, these things gave hope for the 1962 season. The core of the team remained essentially intact, and progress from any of these players could only improve the team.

None of that, though, would prevent 1962 from being another frustrating year to be a 49er fan. This became apparent almost immediately, as the 49ers rushed out of the gate with two big losses to Chicago and Detroit that together illustrated the same inconsistencies that plagued the team the year before. In one game, the team threw for 72 yards, and in the next for 267. In one, the team gave up only 13 passing yards, and in the next 250.

Though discouraging, San Francisco climbed out of this two game hole with a convincing win over a weak Vikings team in Minnesota and two more victories over the Colts and the Bears at home. Though Brodie and the passing game were struggling as much as ever over this stretch, J. D. Smith and his backfield ran for over 600 yards in these three games to help put the team back over .500.

The next week brought the Packers to town, and they were not so kind. Even managing to quiet Bart Starr, the 49ers' efforts on defense were matched blow for blow. The team passed for a season low 19 yards for the entire game, and only even reached the end zone on an Abe Woodson punt return. The performance was dismal, and the 31-13 loss left the team back in familiar territory at .500.

After that loss, the season appeared to snowball. Facing the 0-6 Los Angeles Rams, the 49ers lost handily 28-14. They followed that effort with what might have been their worst game of the season. Managing just 151 yards of total offense and giving up 4 turnovers, the team didn't even manage a touchdown in the 22-3 humiliation to Baltimore. The loss to Detroit the next week finally showed a break in the storm. John Brodie had his best game since week 2 and the team scored more than 20 for the first time in a month. For once, it was the defense that let the team down. Still, at 3-6 and out of the race for all intensive purposes, a midseason loss was too little too late for the offense to find a rhythm.

But it did find a rhythm, and over the next three games, the 49ers outscored their opponents 88-46, a span during which Brodie threw 6 of his 18 touchdowns and the defense forced 9 turnovers. Astoundingly, back at .500, the 49ers were two games away from avoiding their first losing season since 1956. Of course, the would have to go through the Packers and the Browns to do it. And, like most teams facing that same competition, they weren't up to that task. Losing the final two games of the year had to be painful, but doing it while Y. A. Tittle put together what was by far the best season of his career, including his second consecutive Championship appearance had to be salt on the wound.

Player Profile: Tommy Davis

Though he may not have been a skill player, or even a star, it's only fitting to take some time out to talk about the 49ers' third all time leading scorer (and, for that matter, current franchise leader in career punt yards - Andy Lee, eat your heart out).

Tommy Davis was both a placekicker and a punter with the 49ers during his 11 seasons in the NFL, and during that time established himself as one of the top kickers in the game. Over his career, he punted for 22,833 yards, with a season high of 3,599 yards in 1964. At the time of his retirement, his 44.7 career punt average was second only to the legendary Sammy Baugh. Both his career total and career average numbers remain the highest totals in team history. He's currently tied with Andy Lee for the longest individual punt in franchise history with an 82 yarder.

As a field goal kicker, he wasn't nearly as accomplished, converting less than 50% of his career field goal attempts. In his best season, he converted only 63%. His real accomplishments as a placekicker came on extra points, where he made the first 234 extra points of his career - a record at the time. Over his career, he converted 348/350 extra points.

A pro bowl player in 1962 and 1963, Davis' 738 points put him third on the team historically in points scored, behind only Ray Wersching's 979 and Jerry Rice's 1,130. Davis died tragically of lung cancer in 1987.

Musings:

It's tough to say what's going through my head about a season when I write about a kicker - great though he may have been. It's tough. The team in this period was going through some pretty darn average years, and this losing season was the first in what I know to be a rough, though mostly average stretch that didn't really let up until the Nolan years. It will be fun to talk about Dick Nolan when we get there, but there are a few really frustrating seasons to go first, and 1962 was the snowflake that started the avalanche.

But I latched onto the kicking. We can only take Tittle/Albert - Brodie/Tittle so far before we just get sick of comparing people to Young and Montana, and the rushing and receiving became much less compelling once the last of the Hall of Famers was off the team, great though J. D. Smith was as a 49er.

So, kickers. No real structure, just kickers. The first kicker I remember is Doug Brien, and the first kicker I remember really, really liking was Jeff Wilkins. Naturally, the first kicker I remember really, really hating was Jose Cortez. Truth to tell, Andy Lee is the only memorable punter in my personal experience, non-49ers like Sean Landeta aside. There are people who argue that the kicker shouldn't be a part of the game, and I understand this. I disagree with it, but I understand it. To me, the value of having a 3 point play as well as the 6 point play far outweighs the negatives of having a guy who plays less than five minutes a game potentially deciding the Super Bowl.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/
http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl/sf49/49ers.html
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/1962.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1962_NFL_season
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/career-kicking.htm
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/career-scoring.htm
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/D/DaviTo20.htm
http://www.nfl.com/history/randf/records/indiv/punting
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE2DC1E3FF937A35757C0A961948260

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