John McVay, the coach turned San Francisco 49ers executive who constructed the rosters of five Super Bowl-winning teams, has died, the Niners announced Tuesday. He was 91 years old.
The 49ers mourn the loss of former General Manager John McVay.
Inducted into the Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame in 2013, McVay spent 22 seasons with the 49ers.
Our entire organization sends our condolences to the McVay family.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) November 1, 2022
McVay was also the grandfather of Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, whose team released a statement mourning the man and recognizing the effect he had on his grandson and the team.
John McVay did plenty for Niners
Born in Ohio in 1931, McVay embarked on a coaching career after playing center at Miami (OH), rising up from the high school ranks to become the head coach of Dayton, followed by the Memphis Southmen of the quickly defunct World Football League and, finally, the New York Giants.
It was McVay who was (unfortunately) on the New York sideline during the Miracle at the Meadowlands, and that famous loss contributed to a 14-23 record that saw McVay's contract go unrenewed after the 1978 season.
McVay soon found a new career with the Niners, starting as director of player personnel in 1979 before attaining a number of titles, including director of football operations, vice president and general manager. Alongside Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh, McVay helped build the rosters that would win Super Bowls in 1982, 1985, 1989, 1990 and 1995.
As the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame remembers, one of McVay's first assignments was finding Walsh a quarterback, with the search resulting in a third-round draft selection. Joe Montana ended up working out pretty well.
Other homegrown players included Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley, and McVay was also involved in the famous transition from Montana to Steve Young that resulted in his final championship.
Meanwhile, McVay's son Tim grew up to be a defensive back at Indiana and eventually have a son named Sean, who has since won a Super Bowl of his own with the Rams. There are many ways to form a dynasty, but not many people find two of them.