George Seifert remembers assistant Bill McPherson as 49ers' secret weapon

Matt Maiocco
NBC Sports BayArea

Bill Walsh won three Super Bowls as head coach of the 49ers. George Seifert guided the organization to two more NFL championships.

Through all of the 49ers' success in the 1980s and ‘90s, two men in addition to Walsh and Seifert helped set the franchise apart.

"We had two secret weapons during the 17 years I was with the 49ers," Seifert told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday. "One was certainly Bill McPherson, and the other was Bobb McKittrick."

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McPherson, a defensive assistant coach with the 49ers for 21 seasons, passed away on Tuesday. He was 88.

McKittrick, recognized as one of the top offensive line coaches in league history, died of bile duct cancer 20 years ago this week.

McPherson and McKittrick were the only assistant coaches to be on the staffs of Walsh and Seifert for each of the five Super Bowl championships in 49ers history.

Seifert is the only other coach who has five Super Bowl rings. He was defensive backs coach for the 49ers' first Super Bowl, defensive coordinator for the next two, then head coach for the last two.

McPherson was Seifert's defensive coordinator for Super Bowl XXIV. McPherson also coached linebackers and the team's defensive line during his two decades as a 49ers assistant coach.

"The players loved him, not only because of his personality – he was somewhat of a character – but because they knew he could make them better," Seifert said of McPherson.

"His understanding the front seven enabled myself as a defensive backs coach to be able to do a number of things that allowed us to be successful. We had some pretty good defenses, and I don't think that would've taken place if it hadn't been for Mac being on our staff. He was truly a great coach."

McPherson attended and later coached at both Bellarmine Prep in San Jose and Santa Clara University. He coached at UCLA under Dick Vermeil, then followed Vermeil to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1978.

The following year, the 49ers hired Walsh as head coach.

"When Bill (Walsh) got the job, he (McPherson) immediately got in touch with him," Seifert said. "He wanted to get back out to his homeland and coach. And that was a very fortunate move for our organization when Bill brought him to San Francisco.

"Mac had to get home. He had to get his family back to where their roots were. The timing of everything worked out perfectly for Bill to hire him and get him back out here. The rest is history."

After stepping away from coaching, McPherson remained with the 49ers in the team's front office. He worked four seasons as the team's director of pro personnel, then became a consultant for two more years before retiring in 2005.

"Assistant coaches don't get that much notoriety, but they're so important to ultimately getting the job done," Seifert said. "And he was one of the key factors of why we won the Super Bowls and had the good defenses and the good teams."

George Seifert remembers assistant Bill McPherson as 49ers' secret weapon originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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