Once when I was going in for Frank I asked him what defense the other club had been in.
"How should I know?" was Frank's reply.
Every player on the club could be himself with Frank running the show. He had a feeling for building momentum, and once the momentum was established and he had conned everyone into feeling as strong as he did himself even the inferior players would fall into line and play almost as well as Frank had convinced them they could play.
The way Frank played football it was a relaxed game. Buck Shaw felt the same way, and I think I had more fun playing football from 1951 to 1954 with San Francisco under Shaw and with Frank than I did before or after. Shaw could create a relaxed mood at practice during the week because he was a very gentle, friendly man who never raised his voice to his players. He was successful with this method and it made the 49ers a happy club. I don't want to get into any arguments about how you should coach; some very tough coaches have been successful, too. But it's a lot more fun with the relaxed winners than with the tough winners.
What Shaw could do during the week Albert could do during a game. He created the mood he wanted in a thousand different ways. I have tried since to do the same thing with ball clubs, but I was never one-two with Frank at it.
Funny thing about Frank, he could not throw the ball very well. It was as apt to go end over end as to spiral. But Frank got his passes to the receivers.
Frank was the first of the great scramblers and maybe the best. I got a reputation during my career for running a bootleg pass well, but Frank was the best bootlegger I ever saw. He loved to run the bootleg and he used it to change the psychological feel of a game. At a tough time he would hide the ball on his hip and take off, and though everyone on the other team had been warned to watch out for the Albert bootleg he would get away with it and gain five or 10 yards.
The five or 10 yards might not mean much at that particular time, but the fact that Albert had worked the bootleg had an unsettling effect on the defense and gave the 49ers a big lift. Frank was right in thinking that pro football is an emotional game. He used that knowledge to better advantage than any other quarterback I have seen.
Frank had a bagful of tricks. Once he even talked Shaw into letting Nomellini return a kickoff. It wasn't much of a kickoff return, but it sure loosened the ball club up.
There was one man Frank had no intention of keeping loose. Me. When I came to the 49er camp at Menlo Park in 1951 he wasn't about to help anyone take his job away from him. He let me know that early. I asked him to explain something about one of our plays, and he grinned at me.