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When the 49ers Were Kings

How Bill Walsh and Ed DeBartolo Jr. Built a Football Dynasty in San Francisco

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In 1979, San Francisco was in turmoil attempting to recover from the assassination of two of its leaders: Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. The troubled city was in need of an emotional boost to restore their pride. But as the year drew to a sad close, the city’s professional football team, the 49ers, endured its second straight 2–14 season and it, too, was in deep despair. Critics jumped on Eddie DeBartolo Jr., the new owner, along with rookie head coach Bill Walsh. The thirty-year-old DeBartolo, handed the team by his billionaire father, was the league’s youngest owner. Walsh had been passed over in Cincinnati when the Bengals made a coaching change…

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