Sierra College sends ‘mojo’ to the Big Easy
ROCKLIN — As fact has it, the San Francisco 49ers haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1994. As the theory goes at Sierra College, the 49ers haven’t won a Super Bowl since they quit training there in the summer heat.
That’s five Super Bowl championships before and during training camp at Sierra College, and none since they left.
Now that the 49ers are all settled in in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII, Sierra is ready to do all it can to help the team win its sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Trying to restore the “mojo” in the 49ers, a rally of sorts was held at Homer “Buzz” Ostrom Stadium on Tuesday. Leading the charge before about 100 fans, including Sierra’s energetic softball team, were former 49ers Dan Bunz and Mike Wells. Bunz was a tight end in high school who ended up being a linebacker in the NFL who, romanticism for the quarterback notwithstanding, made arguably the tackle of the game, “The Stop,” as it’s known, to help the 49ers win that first Super Bowl in 1982. Wells was a tight end who scored one touchdown in the NFL.
With Bunz guarding Wells while Sierra football coach Ed Eaton threw them passes, these two 49ers reenacted training camp for a few minutes as the entertained crowd watched.
Before the drill, Bunz and Wells educated the gathering on what training camp was about.
Wells nabbed his first job post football as a coach at Rocklin High School. Trying to make the team and stick with the 49ers, he was “always a guy trying to make the team. We stayed in the dorms, catfishing in the pond behind the cafeteria,” said Wells, wearing a T-shirt that read, “Huey Lewis & The News and the San Francisco 49ers, Cal Expo Amphitheatre, Aug. 17, 1985.”
Lewis is a big-time 49ers fan who has performed the National Anthem several times at Candlestick Park; but not this weekend. That honor goes to pop star Alicia Keys.
Bunz might have fished for cats in the pond, too, had he not sneaked out after dinner to sleep in his bed “just over there,” he said, pointing back over his shoulder.
It was Bunz who urged 49ers management to look at Sierra as a possible training camp site. Bunz loved training at Sierra, but he loved home more. The Oakmont High School graduate used to sneak out after dinner and hightail it home to his jacuzzi.
Legendary coach Bill Walsh got word and ordered additional security. Only Bunz never actually sneaked by security.
“I’d leave after dinner and head home. They never caught me,” Bunz said as the crowd giggled. “Coach Walsh said, ‘If I ever caught a guy sneaking out, not being a part of the team, I’d send him to Buffalo.’ ”
Bunz said he was “the bad guy” at first with the 49ers suffering through practices in “120 degrees” and all. But when the 49ers won that first Super Bowl, everyone realized practicing in triple-digit heat got them in shape.
Bunz, a first-round draft pick out of Long Beach State, spent seven of his eight years in the NFL with the 49ers. By blasting Cincinnati’s Charles Alexander at the 1-yard line, probably the most memorable play on the 49ers’ famous goal-line stand in Super Bowl XVI, Bunz is one of the most popular players this side of Joe Montana.
Once out of football, Bunz earned a community college credential and assisted former Sierra head coach Rex Chappell before coaching at Sacramento State and Hiram Johnson School. Bunz now has been at Sutter Middle School for 21 years.
Still looking fit at 57 and wearing his familiar No. 57 jersey, Bunz joined Wells signing autographs for the crowd.
The line was long, and it included Gloria Reyes. Raised in San Francisco and a frequent fan for 49ers game at Candlestick Park, Reyes, 82, now lives in a senior home in Fair Oaks.
Attending the mojo rally with friends Vicki Neese and Kathy Johnson, Reyes proudly showed off a poster she built on a computer showing suddenly popular quarterback Colin Kaepernick running toward a raven in a birdcage. The poster reads, “Cage the Ravens.”
“As long as I keep breathing, I’ll keep being a fan,” said Reyes, wearing a faded but sturdy T-shirt “from the 1940s” that read “49ers Football Forever Faithful,” a red and gold jacket that was made for her and included footballs in the design, and 49ers helmets on a necklace and earrings.
Bunz autographed his name across the midsection of Neese’s gray 49ers T-shirt.
“I used to see Joe Montana and Jerry Rice come here and practice,” Neese said.
Johnson, their chauffeur, couldn’t wait for the party planned at their senior home on Super Bowl Sunday, saying, “I just can’t wait to see all those fans there.”
Contact Bill Poindexter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.