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BLUES BROS. GIVE 49ERS PERSONALITY AND PIZAZZ

Jim Burt used to return home to his New Jersey living room after a hard Sunday's work for the Giants, plop down on his sofa and turn on the television set.

"I'd sit there and relax with my wife, watching the 4 o'clock game," remembers Burt. "Most of the time it was the Raiders.

"There would be No. 55, shoving guys after the play, yelling at everybody, getting in everyone's face.

"I'd tell my wife, 'Look at this guy! He's nuts! He's a psycho!' "

Early last November, after No. 55, linebacker Matt Millen, moved his act to the San Francisco 49ers, coach George Seifert told the team a film of their newly-acquired nose tackle -- "one of the roughest, toughest players in the NFL" -- would be shown at their daily meeting.

On the screen came a now-famous television commercial for Oppenheimer's. It had ballerinas performing all over the place and, in the midst of them, clad in tutu and ballet shoes and attempting to whirl his 270-pound body, was Burt.

"It was hilarious," says Millen. "I'll never forget it."

It was a match made on Saturday Night Live: The Blues Brothers body slam a quarterback.

"The first time we met, I realized we were mirror image," says Burt, a graduate of Orchard Park High School. "Except that I'm about a half-inch taller and a little better looking."

"I try to avoid Burt," claims Millen. "I never know what's going to come out of his mouth."

Burt tells the truth about their relationship: "I'm over to his house two or three times a week. The things Matt says! They are exactly the things I'm thinking.

"It's just that I'm a lot better looking."

At this point, Burt is interrupted by Bronco Hinek, the 49ers' equipment manager.

"Is that your real hair?" shouts Hinek, "or are you wearing a raccoon hat?"

Burt and Millen.

The 49ers were missing something before they arrived -- personality, flavor, pizazz. Joe Montana is a great quarterback, but a white-bread sort of person. Jerry Rice is a great receiver but a prima donna. Roger Craig is slightly off center, but at heart a conformist.

Then came the Blues Brothers.

Artistically, they were major additions. Millen had big games against physical opponents such as the New York Giants and Chicago Bears. Burt forced an important fumble against the Giants and came up big in the come-from-behind triumph over the Rams in Anaheim.

"I had offers from several teams, but I had a better feel up here," says Millen, who held serious talks with the Rams and Seattle after the Raiders cut him in his 10th pro season.

"The Raiders and 49ers are alike, except that the Raiders were more arrogant. We told people we were good. The 49ers know it, but they don't talk about it."

Millen feels the biggest contribution he made to the 49ers was that "I fit in."

Do the younger Niners ask him for advice? "No. But I give it anyway."

After Tom Rathman, the rugged fullback, gave an outstanding performance against the Rams in the NFC championship game, Millen walked over to Rathman on the sideline, embraced him and said how much he admired his toughness.

"I told him, 'I know this is San Francisco and it doesn't look good, but I'm going to hug you anyway.' "

Burt had a more difficult time coming to grips with his exit from the Giants than Millen did in his departure from the Raiders.

"It was a business decision to the Giants, but I didn't look at it that way," says Burt. "It was my life. My heart was broken by that deal.

"We started out from rock bottom, and by my sixth year with the team we won the Super Bowl. It's a great feeling to be able to do something like that."

It was especially bitter because Burt, unprotected in the Plan B free agency plan, turned down a huge contract offer from Green Bay in order to remain a Giant. The Giants rewarded the loyalty by nudging him off their roster before opening day.

Yet adversity seems to have honed the desire of both Burt and Millen, as well as forged their new bond.

"He was released by the Raiders; I was forced into retirement," reminds Burt.

"When the 49ers made me their offer and I talked it over with my wife, she said, 'You're either going to stay home and drive me crazy or you're going to get out of here.' "

Fleeing to Frisco turned out pretty well for both of the Blues Brothers.

"I planned this," claims Millen. "This is what I expected."

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