Writing a 600-word story about the San Francisco 49ers is nothing for a sports writer with decades of experience.
However, writing a book with 100 vignettes about one of the NFL’s most popular teams is not as easy task, but that’s exactly the one Daniel Brown gave himself.
Brown, a former sports editor at The Davis Enterprise and The California Aggie, knew this book posed an extra challenge.
“Because the 49ers history is so well-documented, the challenge for me was giving people things to know that they didn’t actually know,” Brown said. “So even with familiar faces like Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and others, I tried to focus mostly on behind-the-scenes stories.”
Brown, a 1992 graduate of UC Davis, hit the mark with his “100 Things 49ers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” that was published this month. Within the 276 pages, readers not only will discover facts about some of their favorite players, but also learn how to follow in their footsteps or enjoy a meal fit for a Super Bowl champion.
“It’s an interactive history, albeit without the high-tech,” said Brown, currently a staff writer for the San Jose Mercury News. “You can also learn how to drink Carmen Policy’s wine, dine at the burger joint players like Dwight Clark went to after practice, get a sneak preview of the 49ers Hall of Fame and learn the best tips for seeing the team play abroad.”
When it came to putting together the list of 100 things, Brown “took (his) best swing, and then showed the list to other team historians, 49ers employees and other writers — guys like Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee and Matt Maiocco of Comcast.” Brown also received help from former 49er Ronnie Lott, after he got the list from former 49ers PR representative Kirk Reynolds.
But Brown wasn’t just sitting at his desk cutting and pasting information, he was out there interviewing and doing the things on the list. Item No. 20 is “Run The Hill like Jerry Rice.”
“Everybody’s heard for years about how Jerry Rice used to run The Hill for an off-season workout,” Brown said of the Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve trail in Redwood City. “So when I saw him at the Super Bowl, I asked him where it was. ‘Why?’ he said. ‘You want to run it?’ Well, yes. As a matter of fact, I do.
“I never ran it with Jerry, but Roger Craig was very helpful in laying out where the hill is, how to run it and how it became a favorite training ground for 49ers players,” Brown added.
And Brown did run it, several times — including one time “with a pen in one hand and a notebook in the other.” He loosely maps out the trail with 11 markers to look for along the way. Those looking for a tough workout or just the chance to say they trained like Craig and Rice can give it a try.
In addition to things to do, the book is full of great behind-the-scenes stories and information boxes. The stories of Rice and Craig highlight the focus and intensity of the program during the 1980 and into the ’90s.
Brown does a stellar job of weaving stories from the early days of the organization up to the modern era. There are nuggets on each page for the longtime 49ers fan as well as those who have just recently found the bandwagon.
— Reach Kim Orendor at [email protected] or 530-747-8043. Follow her on Twitter at @KOrendor