YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The city of San Francisco had their fair share of Super Bowl parades in the 1980s, and that 49ers bandwagon had plenty of Youngstown fans here in the Valley along for the ride.
“You know, I thought there was a lot of buzz,” says former WYTV Sports Director Bob Hannon, who covered the 49ers dynasty in the late ’80s. “What I remember, too, is that everybody was excited potentially about a 49ers vs. Browns Super Bowl, and the one year, it was close. I think that’s what everybody wanted, Bernie Kosar, the local guy from Boardman, going up against the DeBartolo family. That would have been the best.”
The Browns fell one win shy of making that happen, while the Niners enjoyed unprecedented success. San Francisco has won 46 playoff games, five Super Bowls, and will make the seventh trip to the big game this Sunday.
The only common thread through 40 years of winning tradition is the team’s Youngstown ownership.
“I always felt the 49ers, whether it was Eddie Junior, or John and Denise and Jed, wanted to share the success and share the 49ers with the Mahoning Valley, and I think that’s impressive,” says Hannon.
The 49ers have practiced at Youngstown State University twice over the seven years, and the Edward DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation’s annual dinner and auction has helped raise well over $1 million in college scholarships over the last two decades.
“The money they raise at their event stays here,” says Hannon, who now serves as president of the Youngstown United Way. “It supports high school students going to college, so their commitment is here. They own a team in San Francisco, but their heart is still in the Mahoning Valley.”