THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Sean McVay doesn't have much, if any, recollections of the Rams-49ers rivalry in the late 80s, as he was only three years old at the time.
However, what L.A.'s head coach does recall is his grandfather, John, working for San Francisco, and what it meant to his family.
"I remember there was a lot of good, positive memories when I was around the 49ers when my grandpa was working with those guys," McVay said.
John McVay began his career with the 49ers in 1979 as the team's director of player personnel. Four years later, he was promoted to vice president/director of football operations, a position he held through 1994.
During the 12 seasons in his latter role, John oversaw five Super Bowl championship teams and a front office that drafted three future Pro Football Hall of Famers in DE/LB Charles Haley, WR Jerry Rice and safety Ronnie Lott.
What stands out to Sean more than the success was what his grandfather did with the physical representation of it.
"One of the things I think this story kind of epitomizes, really the kind of guy my grandpa is, he was fortunate enough to be a part of five World Championship teams. He’s got three sons," McVay said. "He kept his first and his fifth Superbowl rings and he gave his second, third and fourth to his sons. So, when my dad wears that fourth Superbowl ring, he can’t wear that, he didn’t earn that, man (laughs). I think it’s pretty cool and I think it’s a good reflection of what’s made my grandpa so special and why he’s meant so much to me.”
Though John retired after the 1995 season, a May 2018 story from the Sacramento Bee reported the club wanted a steady hand in the front office when its ownership transferred from Eddie DeBartolo Jr. to his sister, Denise. So they convinced him to rejoin the franchise in 1998, and he stayed through the 2003 season. He would later become the 24th 49ers Hall of Fame inductee in 2013.
"That organization has a lot of meaning for my family because of my grandpa’s history there," McVay said. "That’s special because of what he accomplished when he was a part of that team for so many years. I think it’s pretty cool."
In 2005, Sports Illustrated declared the 49ers-Rams rivalry as No. 8 NFL rivalry of all time.
Will John be cheering for Sean?
“He better," McVay said. "He better be. He’s not working for the 49ers anymore (laughs).”