5 most successful general managers in 49ers history

General manager John Lynch of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
General manager John Lynch of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
3 of 5
49ers, Kezar Stadium
Cable car on the field during a circa 1950s San Francisco 49ers game at Kezar Stadium (Photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images) /

49ers top general manager No. 3: Louis Spadia (1952-1976)

Imagine being a team executive for a 25-year period. In today’s ever-changing NFL, the names who stay with their respective teams for more than five years appear rare enough.

San Francisco’s longest-tenured general manager, Louis Spadia, has to be included on this list if for no other reason than holding that claim for such a lengthy period of time, helping transition the 49ers towards the modern-football era.

Granted, Spadia’s teams finished with a cumulative record of 161-160 with only four playoff appearances during that sizable span. And one might figure his tenure should have resulted in more postseason success, both before the Super Bowl era and after it began.

However, let’s give Spadia some credit for some of those good 49ers teams from the early 1970s, which saw three consecutive postseason appearances from 1970 through 1972, only for those to come crashing down at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys.

And Spadia also ended up drafting some of the most legendary players in the franchise’s pre-dynasty years of the 1980s, too, such as cornerback Jimmy Johnson, offensive tackle Bob St. Clair and linebacker Dave Wilcox, all Pro Football Hall of Famers.

Spadia earned his retirement after 1976, yet that unfortunately ushered in one of the darkest eras in Niners history under general manager Joe Thomas that would last until another notable name in San Francisco history, one Bill Walsh.