49ers Year-by-Year: 1960

Date:

Opponent:

Score:

Record:

Opponent's Record:

Sept. 25

New York Giants

L: 21-19

0-1

1-0

Oct. 2

Los Angeles Rams

W: 9-13

1-1

0-2

Oct. 9

@ Detroit Lions

W: 14-10

2-1

0-2

Oct. 16

@ Chicago Bears

L: 10-27

2-2

3-1

Oct. 23

@ Green Bay Packers

L: 14-41

2-3

3-1

Oct. 30

Chicago Bears

W: 7-25

3-3

3-2-1

Nov. 6

Detroit Lions

L: 24-0

3-4

2-4

Nov. 20

@ Dallas Cowboys

W: 26-14

4-4

0-9

Nov. 27

@ Baltimore Colts

W: 30-22

5-4

6-3

Dec. 4

@ Los Angeles Rams

W: 23-7

6-4

3-6-1

Dec. 10

Green Bay Packers

L: 13-0

6-5

7-4

Dec. 18

Baltimore Colts

W: 10-34

7-5

6-6

Head Coach: Red Hickey

Key Losses: No Key Losses

Key Additions: TE/SE Monty Stickles (Draft, 11), T Len Rohde (Draft, 59), G Mike Magac (Draft, 16)

Discussion:

The Commissioner of the NFL is a position that I like to think about. I feel lucky to have grown up with an NFL run by Paul Tagliabue. Long before I was paying attention, Pete Rozelle probably did more for the league than any other single person that comes to mind. And needless to say, I find the current commissionership of one Roger Goodell to be a bit of an entertaining train-wreck.

It's probably boring discussion fodder, but it fascinates me, and I could stand to know about 300x more than I currently do.

So, then, Commissioners: Reflect fondly (hell, or negatively) on the days of old, or just bitch about Roger Goodell, the second-most clueless man in charge of a major sport today. And don't think the other sports aren't fair game - I don't know anybody who doesn't like comparing Bud Selig to any number of things, and David Stern's reputation seems to be really hurting these days.

Yeah, sorry for the boring discussion topic. League Commissioner Gossip Hour FTW!

With the death of league Commissioner Bert Bell in the middle of the 1959 season, one of the main problems that the league had to address going into 1960 was that of his successor. Austin Gunsel has been the Commissioner on an interim basis to finish out the previous year, but going into 1960, the NFL gave Pete Rozelle the permanent position. One of the many great accomplishments of his time as Commissioner over the next three decades was the great expansion of the league from a 12 team league with limited national appeal on the day he started to a 28 team, national network powerhouse on the day he left. This tradition of expansion began in his very first season, when Dallas was awarded a new expansion franchise named the Cowboys (having had the Texans before then). The other important league change that season was that the Chicago Cardinals moved to St. Louis.

The 49ers were coming off of a season in which they had been eliminated from the post-season in the very last week of the regular season. A sharp offensive mind, Hickey had already developed the famous Alley-Oop pass that Y. A. Tittle and R. C. Owens had made famous, but going into 1960, he had something new up his sleeve.

It was in the middle of the 1960 season that Hickey unveiled a new offensive formation to the league: the Shotgun. He wasn't simply taking a risk with a new offense, though, he was going to be taking a risk by trusting it primarily to a new starter. Despite coming off of a strong season under Y. A. Tittle, Hickey saw young star John Brodie as the future of the team, and was willing to risk taking a few more losses in order to get the team closer to the day that Brodie would the full-time starter. Tittle and Brodie would split time for much of the season, with Brodie actually getting the lion's share of the snaps.

Starting the season with Tittle, the 49ers went 1-1 against the Giants and the Rams without mounting much of an offensive against either team. It was in week 3 that Brodie got his first significant playing time. Down 0-10 in the 4th quarter against the Lions, Brodie orchestrated two scoring drives late in the game, throwing TDs to Billy Wilson and R. C. Owens for a thrilling victory over the 49ers' conference rival.

The rest of the season wouldn't be so fortunate for Brodie, and over the next few weeks his growing pains would prove difficult for the overall well-being of the season at hand. The passing game was completely silenced for the next three weeks, failing to go over 100 yards against either the Bears (twice) or a very strong Packers team. During that time, Tittle would actually throw for more TDs than Brodie, stealing two second half scores in the loss to the Packers. Brodie's lone TD, however, came in the 25-7 victory over the Bears that was marked by over 200 yards by the 49ers' characteristically overpowering ground game.

Going to Detroit to try to cross the .500 hump for the first time all season, San Francisco was smacked down instead, losing the first of what would be two shutouts that season. Luckily for them, the next week took them back home to play the new Cowboys team, struggling and winless in their inaugural season. With the offense and its QB shuffle still struggling for consistency, Hickey chose this week to unveil his new shotgun formation to the league. The new formation didn't pay immediate dividends as the 49ers actually had their passing output more than double by the Cowboys for the game and didn't pass for a single score, but the 49ers managed to win the game anyway, largely on the merits of 7 Dallas turnovers to get back to.

Back at .500 again and with a new offense going forward, this time San Francisco wouldn't look back. Against the 6-2 Johnny Unitas led Baltimore Colts, John Brodie and the 49er passing game finally came alive. Brodie exploded for over 200 yards in the air (only the second time the 49ers had done that all season), and despite a stunning 356 yards from Unitas, the 49ers took the ball away 6 times and gave Brodie enough possessions to lead the team to a 30-22 victory, and easily their most convincing performance of the year. After a successful trip to Los Angeles, the 49ers came home to take their second shutout loss of the season.

One game back of the Packers with one game to go, the 49ers welcomed the Colts into San Francisco in the final week of the season. Needing a victory to even have a chance at the postseason, the 49er defense dug their toes in against a strong opponent and held the Colts to 10 in a game in which the 49ers never trailed. Brodie capped the season off appropriately by throwing a 4th quarter TD to R. C. Owens to make the final 10-34. Unfortunately for San Francisco, Green Bay won their final game of the season, defeating the Rams and crushing any hopes the 49ers had of a championship title in 1960.

Player Profile: Abe Woodson

Drafted by the 49ers in 1957 as a HB, Woodson spent most of his 9 year career, the first 7 of those with the 49ers as a star defensive back and kick returner. Though he was a standout defensive back, Woodson made history as a kick returner and is remembered to this day as one of the greatest kick returners of all time.

During his seven seasons with the 49ers, Woodson was selected to five straight Pro Bowls from 1959 to 1963. When he retired, he had accumulated 19 interceptions with 1 returned for a TD on defense, as well as 956 career punt return yards with 2 TD returns and 5538 kickoff return yards with 5 returned for TDs.

When he retired, he held many of the league's kick return records, and to this day he still has the most seasons in history leading the league in kick return average with 3. His 105 yard kickoff return against the Rams in 1959 was the second longest in history at the time, and remains third best all-time. He retired with the second highest all time career return average, and remains third in history to this day. His five career kick return TDs are still the second most in NFL history, and his 3 TD returns in 1963 still stand as the second most TD returns in a single season in history.

Enshrined in neither the NFL nor the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fames, Woodson might not be considered amongst the all-time great players, but he is one of the all-time great kick returners, and should be remembered as one of the all-time great 49ers. He is still the team's all time leader in kickoff return yards, return average, return TDs, and holds the team mark for longest return.

Musings:

The Commissioner of the NFL is a position that I like to think about. I feel lucky to have grown up with an NFL run by Paul Tagliabue. The league wasn't perfect, but Tags was the perfect commissioner for its climate. He was always capable of keeping the NFL's problems in-house. He was a great mediator between the league and the Union, and he saw the sport through periods of remarkable growth and stability while other national sports were falling behind in the ratings and dealing with scandal and scrutiny.

Pete Rozelle, who took the commissionership in 1960, probably did more for the league than any other single person. The remarkable amount of growth, expansion and stability, accompanied by what were sometimes major shifts in the league's power structure and financial philosophies re almost unheard of. He saw the NFL through the NFL/AFL merger. He saw the league through the shift from a mass media dwarf to a nationally broadcast behemoth.

It's probably boring discussion fodder, but it fascinates me, and I could stand to know about 300x more than I currently do.

And needless to say, I find the commissionership of one Roger Goodell to be a bit of an entertaining train-wreck. It's strange for me to see a man who has such a need to exercise power and such a clear desire to improve the game, try to go about doing both, rightly or wrongly, with what seems to be almost no plan at all.

So, then, Commissioners: Reflect fondly (hell, or negatively) on the days of old, or just bitch about Roger Goodell, the second-most clueless man in charge of a major sport today. And don't think the other sports aren't fair game - I don't know anybody who doesn't like comparing Bud Selig to any number of things, and David Stern's reputation seems to be really hurting these days.

Yeah, sorry for the boring discussion topic. League Commissioner Gossip Hour FTW!

Primary References:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/1960_roster.htm
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/1960_games.htm
http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl/sf49/49ers.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1960_NFL_season
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Rozelle
http://judspressbox.blogspot.com/2008/09/best-return-specialists-in-nfl-history.html
http://www.nfl.com/history/randf/records/indiv/kickreturns
http://books.google.com/books?id=BQgS5gjPqh0C&pg=PA76&lpg=PA76&dq=abe+woodson&source=web&ots=i0NisZbzNj&sig=fuEi68-pl2S_B2C5UyxpgxRHqS0&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=9&ct=result
http://www.sf49ers.com/history/career_stats.php?section=HI%20Career%20Stats%20Leaders
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/W/WoodAb00.htm

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