Call it what you want — a coincidence, a sign of things to come, whatever — it was freaky.
At 1:01 p.m., Pacific time Sunday, Oregon football officially issued a press release naming Mark Helfrich its head coach. Exactly one minute later, LaMichael James, Oregon’s all-time career rushing leader, scored his first NFL touchdown.
James’ 15-yard score came with his San Francisco 49ers down 17-0 against the Atlanta Falcons and sparked a 14-point run to make the game competitive again. In four games of regular season play, James averaged 4.6 yards per rush on 27 carries.
The winner of San Francisco/Atlanta will go on to play the winner of Baltimore/New England in Super Bowl XLVII.
Helfrich was unaware of his former player’s touchdown, as he was giving his first official press conference as head coach during the play.