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49ers Year-by-Year: 1964

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Opponent's Record:

Sept. 13

Detroit Lions

L: 26 - 17



Sept. 20

@ Philadelphia Eagles

W: 28 - 24



Sept. 27

St. Louis Cardinals

L: 23 - 13



Oct. 4

Chicago Bears

W: 21 - 31



Oct. 11

@ Green Bay Packers

L: 14 - 24



Oct. 18

@ Los Angeles Rams

L: 14 - 42



Oct. 25

Minnesota Vikings

L: 27 - 22



Nov. 1

@ Baltimore Colts

L: 7 - 37



Nov. 8

@ Minnesota Vikings

L: 7 - 24



Nov. 15

Green Bay Packers

W: 14 - 24



Nov. 22

@ Chicago Bears

L: 21 - 23



Nov. 29

Baltimore Colts

L: 14 - 3



Dec. 6

Los Angeles Rams

W: 7 - 28



Dec. 13

@ Detroit Lions

L: 7 - 24



Head Coach: Jack Christiansen

Key Losses: SE Clyde Conner, OT Bob St. Clair, DT Leo Nomellini

Key Additions: WR Dave Parks, LB Dave Wilcox, OG Howard Mudd, LB Ed Beard

Discussion Starter: Discussion starter here this week only because I really didn't have to stretch for this one. It's more of a convenient coincidence than anything anybody can really talk about, anyway, but... In 1963, the 49ers won two games, struggled with injuries and an ongoing thinning of the offensive talent, and went through a midseason coaching change. In 1964 they retained their interim coach full-time and went on to win 4 games. The 49ers now have won two games and are struggling with injuries and a lack of talent. Mike Singletary has the chance to be retained next season. The logical conclusion to this is that Singletary coaches the team for 3 more years with limited success and is then replaced by Mike Nolan. Just think about that for a while.

Coming off of the worst season in franchise history, the 49ers had bottomed out. Following 1963, future hall of fame lineman Bob St. Clair and Leo Nomellini both retired, meaning that in just a few short years the 49ers had lost Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny, Billy Wilson, R.C. Owens, Leo Nomellini, Bob St. Clair, and Y. A. Tittle - most of whom were future hall of fame players and key figures in much of the (admittedly inconsistent) success the team had experienced for the better part of a decade. At least in 1964, they could look forward to the return of QB John Brodie on offense, who had been injured for most of the dismal 1963 season, HB J.D. Smith, who had been the team's leading rusher since 1959, as well as perennial defensive stars Matt Hazeltine, Charlie Krueger, Jimmy Johnson and Abe Woodson.

But the new season started the same way that the old one had ended: in defeat. Despite getting within a touchdown on Brodie's third quarter score to Bernie Casey, the 49ers never led the game and got pushed around on both sides of the ball in this 17 - 26 defeat.

Week two would bring improvement. Playing in the hostile environment of Philadelphia, this was a stark contrast to the game before as the 49ers never trailed while staying one beat ahead of the Eagles at all times. Philadelphia's fourth quarter comeback would be too little too late in this 24-28 squeaker.

Losing their next game to the Cardinals, the 49ers played one of the most important games of their season at home against the Bears in week 4. Finally coming alive on offense while continuing to play an uncharacteristically stifling brand of defense, San Francisco rode three John Brodie touchdown passes and two forced turnovers to their second win of the season while matching their highest point total since 1962. The win also matched their win total from the year before and all but guaranteed improvement.

For a long stretch after that game, though, it probably seemed like the team would never get win number 3. Again, battling a multitude of injuries - including a major injury to star halfback J.D. Smith - as well as a young, inconsistent offense, the 49ers dropped 5 straight, including a two week stretch during which they turned the ball over an absolutely astounding 15 times.

Relief would come finally against the Green Bay Packers, of all teams, who were in the midst of a trying season themselves. In a sloppy game that featured 7 turnovers and less than 550 combined yards from either team (including on 73 49er passing yards), the 49ers eventually won a game that neither team really deserved to win. Bittersweet though it may have been, the win was their third on the year and, in a season that had gone completely south in the blink of an eye, was the first good thing to happen to the team in weeks.

Despite continuing to play well on defense, the offense went right on with its losing ways, struggling to build any momentum through the air while turning the ball over left and right. It was perhaps no coincidence that the team's final win of the season came that they ran for the fewest yards all season. The 49ers offense had been living and dying through the team's deeply inconsistent passing game almost since the time that Brodie had become the full-time starter, and in week 14 he put in what was by easily his best performance since the week two win over the Eagles. The effort was good enough for a 28-7 victory and the last win of the year. The team would fall unceremoniously to the Lions the week after to finish the year.

Player Profile: Dave Wilcox

Dave Wilcox was selected out of Oregon by the 49ers in the third round of the 1964 draft. A defensive lineman in college, the 6'3", 240 pounder was converted to outside linebacker in the NFL. Blessed with stupendous strength, superior speed, and a long reach, Wilcox had all of the physical tools to star in the NFL. Known as a true student of the game, he had all the mental tools to go with them as well.

Playing his entire 11 year career with the 49ers, Wilcox was selected to 7 Pro-Bowls and was named an All-Pro two times. Feared by opposing offenses, his versatility and preparedness gave him an edge against the competition. Known as brutally difficult to block, Wilcox became known by his contemporaries as "The Intimidator." He was also skilled in pass coverage and was notorious for being tough on Tight Ends with his aggressive, physical play off the line.

As tough as they come, Wilcox only ever missed one game in his career because of an injury. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000 and to this day is widely regarded as the single best linebacker of his generation.

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