49ers Year-by-Year: 1965

Date:

Opponent:

Score:

Record:

Opponent's Record:

Sept. 19

Chicago Bears

W: 24 - 52

1-0

0-1

Sept. 26

Pittsburgh Steelers

W: 17 - 27

2-0

0-2

Oct. 3

@ Baltimore Colts

L: 24 - 27

2-1

2-1

Oct. 10

@ Green Bay Packers

L: 10 - 27

2-2

4-0

Oct. 17

@ Los Angeles Rams

W: 45 - 21

3-2

1-4

Oct. 24

Minnesota Vikings

L: 42 - 41

3-3

3-3

Oct. 31

Baltimore Colts

L: 34 - 28

3-4

6-1

Nov. 7

@ Dallas Cowboys

L: 31 - 39

3-5

3-5

Nov. 14

@ Detroit Lions

W: 27 - 21

4-5

5-4

Nov. 21

Los Angeles Rams

W: 27 - 30

5-5

1-9

Nov. 28

@ Minnesota Vikings

W: 45 - 24

6-5

5-6

Dec. 5

Detroit Lions

W: 14 - 17

7-5

5-6-1

Dec. 12

@ Chicago Bears

L: 20 - 61

7-6

9-4

Dec. 19

Green Bay Packers

T: 24 - 24

7-6-1

10-3-1

Head Coach: Jack Christiansen

Key Losses: CB/KR Abe Woodson, HB J. D. Smith

Key Additions: HB John David Crow, HB Ken Willard

After the jump, a detailed rundown of the 1965 season, a make or break year for QB John Brodie.

In 1965, the competition between the NFL and the AFL escalated. Where the NFL had been relatively comfortable as the dominant league, the rise of the AFL became apparent when Joe Namath, who had been drafted highly in both leagues, decided to play with the New York Jets in the AFL instead of playing with St. Louis Cardinals in the NFL. As the AFL continued to attract more and more high profile talent from the clutches of the NFL, the battle between the two leagues finally began to reach the climax that would resolve itself in 1966.

The 49ers had won a total of 6 games in the last two injury riddled seasons, but not without making efforts to improve an offense that had been decimated by key losses to many of the key positions. In 1964, the 49ers had made some strides in shoring up their passing game, mostly by drafting game-changing receiver Dave Parks. This season, they completely revamped their backfield, which had previously been held together by declining star J. D. Smith, by saying goodbye to Smith, trading for John David Crow and drafting Ken Willard.

The team had more problems than that, though. The fans had begun to sour on John Brodie, who had failed to fill the shoes of Y. A. Tittle - who, adding salt to the wound, had played the best football of his life since his departure. Brodie's career as a 49er was entering make or break territory, but the team took provisions to ensure his success. After Y. A. Tittle retired at the end of 1964, the 49ers brought him in as an assistant to help coach Brodie.

And if there were any fears that 1965 would be the same old story with a few new faces, then the first game of the season acted as a sweet release from those fears. John Brodie was fantastic, throwing for 4 touchdowns and over 250 yards, while the new backfield racked up nearly 200 yards on the ground in a cathartic 52-24 victory over a good Bears team.

They came back down to earth over the next few games, but it was clear that this team had something that hadn't been present the last few years. In the past, the offense would disappear for games at a time, but this season the offense was keeping the team in every single game, the only real slipup coming against an absolute powerhouse Bart Starr led Packers team.

After falling miserably to the Packers in week 4 to drop back to .500, the 49ers went down to LA to do another thing they hadn't been able to do for the last few years: bounce back. And with another 3 touchdown passes from John Brodie and more stellar play from both Crow and Willard, who combined for 4 touchdowns of their own, they did.

At 3-2, the 49ers were in a position they hadn't been in for a long time and, more than that, they looked good doing it. At least on offense. The defense had been as bad as ever, and had yet to give up less than 21 points in a game. And it was the defense that came back to haunt them. Despite putting up scores of 41, 28, and 31 over the next 3 weeks, they lost every one of those games to find themselves 3-5 and back in familiar territory.

But even with the losses, the 49ers had already proven that they weren't the same team that had gone 6-22 over their last 28 games, and just like they had bounced back after the loss to the Packers, they bounced back again, reeling off 4 straight wins to not only get back over .500, but to actually remain in contention for the division. The streak was capped by a 17-14 victory over the Lions that was the first (and only) time all season the 49ers held a team to under 20 points.

This wasn't a defensive improvement, though, so much as it was a glitch in the system, and the defense came right back down to earth in a crushing 61-20 loss to the Bears that was the final nail in the 49ers playoff hopes.

The season wasn't over, though, and the team still had a little bit of pride to play for. At 7-6, their final game against the Packers gave them the chance to better than .500 for the first time since 1961 - and the tie sealed it. 1965 was a season of remarkable improvement for the 49ers. They got consistent all star play out of John Brodie for the first time in his career and sent 4 of their offensive skill players to the pro bowl: Brodie, who had thrown for 30 TDs and over 3,000 yards, Crow, who combined for over 1,000 all-purpose yards, Ken Willard, who ran for over 700 yards and 5 TDs, and Parks, who led the team in all-purpose yards with 1,344.

Things were looking up.

Player Profile: Dave Parks

Taking a break from well-remembered, Hall of Fame players, I want to focus in on a more obscure, but still integral cog in the 49ers offensive rebirth of the mid ‘60s. The 49ers drafted Dave Parks out of Texas Tech with the first overall pick in 1964. Despite limited playing time during his rookie season, Parks made the absolute most of his opportunities. With only 36 receptions for the year, he still totaled over 700 yards and 8 TDs receiving, which was enough to get him into the Pro Bowl as that year.

1965 was a career year for Parks, as he more than doubled his catch total and nearly doubled his yardage total, while averaging almost a 100 yards and nearly one TD reception a game. He was easily one of the most exciting players on the team that year, and earned his second Pro Bowl appearance in two years.

His third season with the 49ers was less impressive than his second, which is not to say that it wasn't still impressive. Good for 66 receptions, 974 yards, and 5 TDs, he continued to be the focal point of the passing game and one of the sparks that started the team's explosive offense. Again, he was selected to the Pro Bowl, meaning he had been in the Pro Bowl every season of his young career.

And then things were never the same for Parks. After holding out for what he hoped would be a lucrative contract extension, his play in 1967 suffered greatly and, at odds with the team, he left for New Orleans where, he said, "it didn't take me long to figure out that I would not be surrounded with the same type of talent." In five years with the Saints, he never approached the numbers that he accumulated with the 49ers.

Primary References:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/P/ParkDa00.htm
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/1965.htm
http://books.google.com/books?id=mcpPMgJWg60C&pg=RA1-PA59&lpg=RA1-PA59&dq=dave+parks+49ers+1967&source=bl&ots=jRDLPUSb1k&sig=SLITFcHD26cTcoNXKoVG6PLjQpo&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result#PRA1-PA61,M1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1965_NFL_season
Glenn Dickey. San Francisco 49ers: The First Fifty Years. Turner Publishing, Inc., Atlanta. 1995

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