James Jones column: Jones family seeking gold on Super Bowl Sunday

Published 7:45 pm Saturday, February 10, 2024

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This weekend will be treated like a holiday in my family.

Our favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers, will be playing in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas on Sunday.

The 49ers became our family’s National Football League (NFL) team when my uncle and his family moved to the Bay Area in 1967.

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People I met in later years accused me of being a front-runner, someone who becomes a fan when a team is winning. The 49ers were a dominant championship dynasty between 1981 and 1998.

When I named off my favorites, folks like Steve Spurrier (yes, the former Florida coach was a San Francisco backup quarterback for years) and wide receiver Gene Washington, they understood I was a die hard 49ers fan.

We always tease my uncle for his bad timing, as he left San Francisco and returned to Alabama in 1978. He relocated the year before San Francisco began to build their dynasty, first with head coach Bill Walsh and then with quarterback Joe Montana.

Three years later after my uncle left “the city by the bay,” the 49ers won their first Super Bowl. They bagged three other Super Bowls during the decade, becoming the NFL team of the 1980’s.

I was clever enough to incorporate the 49ers into my academic pursuits. During my junior year at Holt High School in 1987, American history teacher Jim Bonds gave us extra credit if we wrote a current event that involved Alabama.

The two page report I crafted was titled, “How Ray Perkins gave Bill Walsh a gold mine for San Francisco.”

Perkins was head football coach for the University of Alabama and left to become coach and general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay had the number one pick in the NFL Draft and took quarterback Vinny Testaverde, the 1986 Heisman Trophy winner.

Tampa Bay also had quarterback Steve Young, who the NFL labeled a bust. Walsh inquired about Young and assumed it would take high draft picks to acquire the left-hander. 

Perkins told him it would require second- and fifth-round picks to get Young. Walsh was so shocked that he threw in an extra $1 million in the deal after 49ers management approved.

While San Francisco already had Montana, I believed that Young would keep the dynasty going. Everybody laughed at me because Montana, at that time, was considered the greatest quarterback ever. Young, though, was a passing quarterback who could run made him special.

My prediction was true as Young guided the 49ers to a Super Bowl win in 1994. 

We will be celebrating Sunday if the 49ers prevail over the Chiefs on Sunday. 

We shall see.