49ers Year-by-Year: 1957

Date:

Opponent:

Score:

Record:

Opponent’s Record

Sept. 29

Chicago Cardinals

L: 20-10

0-1

1-0

Oct. 6

Los Angeles Rams

W: 20-23

1-1

1-1

Oct. 13

@ Chicago Bears

W: 21-17

2-1

0-3

Oct. 20

@ Green Bay Packers

W: 24-14

3-1

1-3

Oct. 27

Chicago Bears

W: 17-21

4-1

1-4

Nov. 3

Detroit Lions

W: 31-35

5-1

3-3

Nov. 10

@ Los Angeles Rams

L: 24-37

5-2

3-4

Nov. 17

@ Detroit Lions

L: 10-31

5-3

5-3

Nov. 24

@ Baltimore Colts

L: 21-27

5-4

6-3

Dec. 1

@ New York Giants

W: 27-17

5-4

7-3

Dec. 8

Baltimore Colts

W: 13-17

7-4

7-4

Dec. 15

Green Bay Packers

W: 20-27

8-4

3-9

Playoffs:

Dec. 22

Detroit Lions

L: 31-27

8-5

9-4

Head Coach: Frankie Albert

Key Losses: C Bill Johnson (Retire), FB/HB John Henry Johnson (FA)

Key Additions: LB Marv Matuszak (FA), LB, Karl Rubke (Draft, 56), HB J. D. Smith (1956 trade w/ Chicago), QB John Brodie (Draft, 3), DB Abe Woodson (Draft, 15), K/P Tommy Davis (Draft, 128), DT John Thomas (Draft, 272)

Discussion Topic:

The great 1957 season began with what was really a great 1957 draft. We all know the great John Brodie, who was drafted in the first round that season, but we might not be as familiar with some of the other successful picks the 49ers had that season including: 8 year 49ers LB Karl Rubke, 7 year 49er (and 5 time Pro Bowl) DB Abe Woodson, 11 year 49er (and 2 time Pro Bowl) K/P Tommy Davis, and 10 year 49er (and 1 time Pro Bowl) DT John Thomas.

Now that’s a good draft: 5 longtime players, 4 of whom made one or more Pro Bowls with the team. So that leads into the question of the day: What’s your favorite draft class of all time?

The 49ers entered the 1957 season with a shadow looming overhead. For all their talent, the previous two and a half seasons had been riddled with key injuries and disappointing performances. Frankie Albert’s first year as head coach in 1956 had been one of the team’s most uneven seasons to date, but had finished strongly as the team went undefeated in their final five games. Could Albert and the 49ers carry that momentum through to a successful 1957 season, or would the disappointing sub-.500 records of the last two years prove to be closer to reality than anybody was willing to believe?

If the first game was going to be any indication, 49ers fans would be in line for another disappointing year. Despite a typically strong rushing attack, the passing game failed to mount any sort of real offensive, and the 49ers fell weakly to the Chicago Cardinals 20-10 at home. Luckily for Niner fans, that first game was not going to be an indication of how the rest of the season would play out. The team would win each of its next three games, including an important matchup against rival and perennial conference contender Los Angeles.

By the time the team’s October 27th matchup with the Bears came about, the 49ers had climbed to 4-1, and were alone in first place for the first time in over two years. Against Chicago at home that day, the 49ers found themselves in a deep 17-7 hole by halftime. Tragically, team owner Tony Morabito suffered a heart attack in the middle of the game and died. He never got to see what happened next, as his team mounted an emotional second half comeback capped by an 11 yard touchdown pass late in the 4th quarter from Y. A. Tittle to Billy Wilson to win the game. Following the game, the team dedicated the miraculous win to their owner.

There would be no time off to grieve, though, as San Francisco was scheduled to play its next four games against strong conference rivals, two of which would come against the always strong Detroit Lions. In what might have been the most high energy game of the year, the 49ers immediately went to work against the Lions, racking up over 225 yards in the air and winning the game in stunning fashion on a 4th quarter 41 yard heave from Tittle to first year player R. C. Owens in what was becoming familiar among fans as the pair’s patented Alley-Oop pass. The 31-35 victory would be the 49ers’ highest scoring game of the season.

And then the season began to catch up with San Francisco. On November 10, the Rams dominated San Francisco 24-37 in a game in which they never trailed. The week after that, the 49ers took a massive 10-31 stomping at the hands of the Lions to drop into a three way tie for first with Detroit and Baltimore, in a game that would account for their first losing streak of the whole season. The Lions held San Francisco to under 75 yards passing, while torching the 49er defense for over 375 yards in the air and over 500 yards altogether. The 49ers’ only touchdown in this game was thrown by rookie QB Jon Brodie in one of his very few appearances of the season.

The losing streak wouldn’t end there, though, as the 49ers dropped a third game in a row, this time to the Colts, to drop the 49ers into second place and cause serious concern that this team, like the team’s of the previous two years, was headed for a breakdown. On December 1 in New York, though, the 49ers finally got things turned around. Getting back to the basics of defense and running, the 49ers took an early lead in this game and never looked back, as they strolled to a much needed 27-17 win, and got their season back on track.

Still just a game out of first place, the win against the Giants had put the 49ers in a position to climb back into the top of the rankings the following week against conference leading Baltimore. Down 13-10 in the 4th quarter with the season on the line, the unthinkable happened when Y. A. Tittle had to leave the game with an injury. John Brodie came in to replace him, and threw the only other touchdown pass he would have in his rookie season, a 14 yard down and out to Hugh McElhenny that won the game and kept the season alive for another week.

Likely needing a win to see the post-season, the 49ers finally caught a break, playing their final game of the season against a weak Green Bay Packers team. Even without playing at full strength, the 49ers managed to come away with a 20-27 win. With Detroit also winning their final game of the season, this forced a one game playoff to determine who would compete in the Championship Game.

On December 22, the 49ers squared off against the Lions in San Francisco. Up 24-7 at halftime behind 3 Y. A. Tittle TD passes (an Alley-Oop to Owens, a 47 yarder to McElhenny, and a 12 yard throw to Wilson), it would seem that 49ers fans would finally have their championship, the goal that late owner Tony Morabito had gone so far as to fire a legendary to coach to achieve. Amazingly, though, Detroit charged back in the second half with 24 unanswered points and stunned the 49ers and their fans by taking the game 31-27. The 49ers had thrilled their fans by making it as far as they had ever gotten, they had held the season in the palms of their hands, but in the end, they just couldn’t quite close the deal.

Player Profile: John Brodie

John Brodie was born in San Francisco in 1935, and went on to star at Stanford before being drafted by the 49ers with the 3rd overall pick of the 1957 NFL draft. He played for the 49ers for every one of his 17 years as a professional football player before working as a sports analyst with NBC, and eventually edging out a post-football career playing golf on the Senior PGA Tour.

For his career, John Brodie 31,548 passing yards, 214 TDs, 224 INTs, and a 55.0% completion rate. At the time of his retirement, he was the 49ers’ all time passing yards, TD, and INT leader, and remains second all time with the team in passing yards and third all time in TDs (as well as first all time for INTs). He retired as the third all time leader for passing yards in the NFL, behind only Johnny Unitas and Fran Tarkenton.

John Brodie was a two time Pro Bowler and was the league MVP in 1970. He was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1988, but has yet to be elected into either the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Musings:

This was really a great season. After a few disappointing years, the team finally got over its injury woes and put together some real consistency for a legitimate run at the Championship Game. It was also a heartbreaking season. The death of owner Tony Morabito in the middle of the season was a cloud hanging over the rest of the year that acted both as a distraction and as an inspiration. Appropriately enough, the season ended on what was both a high and a heartbreaking note, with the team making the post-season for the first time in their NFL history, and only the second time since the team’s inception in 1946.

I think it’s worth focusing on the positives from this season, though, since it had been almost three years since 49ers fans had anything truly positive to celebrate. And the great 1957 season began with what was really a great 1957 draft. We all know the great John Brodie, who was drafted in the first round that season, but we might not be as familiar with some of the other successful picks the 49ers had that season including: 8 year 49ers LB Karl Rubke, 7 year 49er (and 5 time Pro Bowl) DB Abe Woodson, 11 year 49er (and 2 time Pro Bowl) K/P Tommy Davis, and 10 year 49er (and 1 time Pro Bowl) DT John Thomas.

Now that’s a good draft: 5 longtime players, 4 of whom made one or more Pro Bowls with the team. So that leads into the question of the day: What’s your favorite draft class of all time?

For me, this 2007 draft is looking to be pretty promising. Willis and Staley are both already studs. Then Hill, McDonald, Goldson, and have Brown all given us reason to hope, and even only 1 or 2 of those make anything of themselves, I’d call that a pretty darn good draft. But really, it’s still too early to say anything worthwhile about that draft. Who can forget the 2004 draft that netted us Cody Pickett (which automatically makes it a good draft), but also wasted a first pick on Rashaun Woods (which automatically makes it a bad draft). And who can forget 1997, when the 49ers had a whopping total of three picks, and used a third of them on Jim Druckenmiller? Yeah… not a good draft…. In all seriousness, I think my favorite (at least since I’ve been a fan) really has to be 1994. It wasn’t necessarily a draft, but we got some great memories from William Floyd and Lee Woodall, some decent years out of Tyrone Drakeford and Doug Brien, and, of course, the great Bryant Young. I’d say that turned out to be a pretty darn good draft, and any draft that brings a guy like Bryant Young to the team automatically gets extra points.

Primary References:

http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl/sf49/49ers.html
http://www.profootballresearchers.org/Coffin_Corner/08-04-264.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Brodie

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/B/BrodJo00.htm
http://www.sf49ers.com/history/career_stats.php?section=HI%20Career%20Stats%20Leaders

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/1957.htm
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/1957_roster.htm

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker