49ers Year-by-Year: 1967

What follows is a historical recap of the 49ers' 1967 season. Read on to see what happens over the course of a season that spells the end for head coach Jack Christiansen and offcially ushers in the Dick Nolan era. Read on to see what Randy Johnson has to do with the 49ers. And read on to see what happens when Goerge Mira starts the final two games of the season at quarterback for the 49ers.

Date:

Opponent:

Score:

Record:

Opponent's Record:

Sept. 17

@ Minnesota Vikings

W: 27-21

1-0

0-1

Sept. 24

Atlanta Falcons

W: 7-38

2-0

0-2

Oct. 1

@ Baltimore Colts

L: 7-41

2-1

3-0

Oct. 8

@ Los Angeles Rams

W: 27-24

3-1

3-1

Oct. 15

@ Philadelphia Eagles

W: 28-27

4-1

3-2

Oct. 22

New Orleans Saints

W: 13-27

5-1

0-6

Oct. 29

Detroit Lions

L: 45-3

5-2

3-3-1

Nov. 5

Los Angeles Rams

L: 17-7

5-3

5-1-2

Nov. 12

@ Washington Redskins

L: 28-31

5-4

3-4-2

Nov. 19

@ Green Bay Packers

L: 0-13

5-5

7-2-1

Nov. 26

Baltimore Colts

L: 26-9

5-6

9-0-2

Dec. 3

Chicago Bears

L: 28-14

5-7

6-6

Dec. 10

@ Atlanta Falcons

W: 34-28

6-7

1-11-1

Dec. 16

Dallas Cowboys

W: 16-24

7-7

9-5

Head Coach: Jack Christiansen

Key Losses: WR/TE Bernie Casey, DB Elbert Kimbrough

Key Additions: QB Steve Spurrier, T Cas Banaszek, LB Frank Nunley

As part of the merger agreement that called for the leagues to undergo regular expansion until a total of 28 teams existed, the NFL awarded the Saints to New Orleans. With the expansion, the NFL was realigned to accommodate 4 divisions split between 2 conferences. The Eastern Conference would be made up of the Capitol and Century Divisions, while the Western Conference would be made up of the Central and Coastal Divisions. The 49ers played in the Coastal Division, along with the Rams, Colts, and Falcons.

The story of the 49ers during the 4 seasons they had been coached by Jack Christiansen had been the story of a team with a powerful offense that was constantly betrayed by injuries and an inferior defense. Even when healthy, the offense would occasionally suffer inexplicable bouts of ineffectiveness, and John Brodie had struggled to capitalize on his breakout performance in 1965. The defensive struggles were even more infuriating. Despite having strong contributions from players like Charlie Kreuger, Jimmy Johnson, Fred Wilcox, Kermit Alexander, Matt Hazeltine, Roland Lakes, and Ed Beard, the defense was always a liability under Christiansen.

And even with the early success of the new 1967 season, the story was much the same. Despite jumping to a 27-0 lead by the third quarter of their first game, San Francisco fans watched the team very nearly give it all back to the Vikings in the 4th quarter. The week 2 win against Atlanta was impressive on all fronts, but it happened to come against the worst team in the league.

After the misleading win, it was back to familiar territory for the 49ers. The usually potent offense suddenly and inexplicably went very quiet, while the defense took a massive beating in Baltimore. Playing the undefeated Rams a week later in Los Angeles would be a true test of the team's mettle. Again jumping out to a commanding lead early, this time 20-0 at the half, the 49ers spent most of the second half giving it back and were actually trailing 24-20 in the fourth quarter. A late touchdown pass from Brodie to Sonny Randle sealed the upset victory and revealed the resilience of this 49er team, but the latest second half collapse was a bad omen.

Still, the 49ers were 3-1 and looking to finish their road trip off strong in Philadelphia. Hot off the upset win, very little seemed to change. Taking another lead into halftime, the 49ers found themselves trailing by the end of the third quarter, and only won the game on another 4th quarter touchdown, this time a 4 yard Fred Willard run. Thankfully for fans everywhere, the week 6 game over the expansion Saints had no heart-stopping finish and the 49ers won easily.

At 5-1 and tied for second in their division, the 49ers were in the midst of their best season in years, and despite the difficult victories and the glaring warning signs, spirits were high. Unfortunately, that was when the wheels came off.

Starting with a humiliating 45-3 loss at home to the 2-3-1 Detroit Lions and ending mercifully 6 weeks later after a 28-14 loss to the 5-6 Bears, San Francisco went on a 6 game skid during which there was almost nothing redeeming about the team's performance whatsoever. The only glimmer of offense during that stretch came in week 9 against the Redskins when John Brodie got the team out to a 14 nothing first half lead, which was then squandered, and when Fred Willard got the lead back twice more in the second half before the team finally succumbed to the dominance of Sonny Jurgenson's performance.

Thankfully, after falling suddenly from 5-1 to 5-7, the 49ers played the Falcons again. And it's amazing what playing the worst team in the league can do for a team that has been playing like the worst team in the league. Unlike the earlier 38-7 drumming of the Falcons, the struggling 49ers came down to Atlanta's level this time, at least on defense. With John Brodie out, George Mira led the team to an early 27-7 lead, which Atlanta quarterback Randy Johnson then picked apart. But it wouldn't be enough for the lowly Falcons, and the 49ers won 34-28.

Then, with George Mira again at the helm, the 49ers finished the season with perhaps their most impressive victory of the year. Behind 3 touchdowns from Mira, the 49ers defeated a 9-4 Cowboys team in a game that they never trailed and, really, were never even in danger of losing.

Even finishing .500, the season was a major disappointment, and Christiansen was fired in the offseason. Dick Nolan was brought in to replace him, with the hopes that he could bring a greater presence to the defense.

Player Profile: Bruce Bosley

A four time Pro Bowler with the 49ers during his 14 year career (13 with San Francisco), offensive lineman Bruce Bosley was one of the core members of the wildly successful offenses that the 49ers employed between 1956 and 1968. Originally drafted as a defensive end out of West Virginia University, Bosley was moved back to his natural position on the offensive line early in his pro career.

Starting at left guard, Bosley was transitioned full-time to center in 1962, where he stayed for the rest of his career. He was one of the first centers to play in the shotgun formation, which was invented by former 49er coach Red Hickey and first used in 1961.

Considered underrated at the time he was playing, Bosley used his superior size, strength, and intelligence to dominate in the trenches. He gained recognition late in his career, when he was selected to 3 of his 4 pro bowls, and former Detroit Lions linebacker Joe Schmidt is quoted as saying that he was the best center in the game at the time.

After his retirement, Bosley served for a time as the President of the NFL Alumni Association, though he committed most of his energy to non-football activities. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982.

Bruce Bosley succumbed to heart disease in 1995. He was 61 years old.

Primary References:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/1967.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_NFL_season
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE5D7123BF93AA15757C0A963958260
http://wvuvarsityclub.com/profiles/bosley_bruce.html
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/B/BoslBr00.htm

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