A longtime NFL assistant coach, George Stewart takes over as the Chargers’ special teams coordinator and assistant head coach after spending the last 10 seasons as the wide receivers coach for the Minnesota Vikings.
Last season, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was named to his second-career Pro Bowl after leading the NFL in kickoff return average for the third time in his career, a league record. The Vikings also for the first time since 1981 had three players top 800 yards receiving, including wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
A native of Little Rock, Ark., Stewart was a standout guard at the University of Arkansas from 1977-80. The Razorbacks played in four straight bowl games during his tenure and won the Southwest Conference title in 1979. Stewart, who was named to the Razorbacks’ All-Decade Team for the 1970s, earned All-SWC honors as a junior in 1979, and he was a team captain as a senior in 1980. Stewart signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted rookie in 1981 but spent the season on “Reserve-Injured.”
Stewart entered the coaching ranks in 1983 as a graduate assistant at Arkansas, working under the famed Lou Holtz. He followed Holtz to the University of Minnesota a year later, taking over as the Golden Gophers’ offensive line coach. Under Holtz, the Gophers made a rapid turnaround, finishing 7-5 and beating Clemson in the 1985 Independence Bowl, Minnesota’s first bowl victory since the 1962 Rose Bowl. In 1986, Stewart joined Holtz at Notre Dame as linebackers coach. In Stewart’s third and final season in South Bend in 1988, the Irish finished 12-0 and defeated West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl en route to being crowned national champions.
Stewart spent the first 11 seasons of his NFL career (1989-99) coaching special teams, first in Pittsburgh (1989-91) under the legendary Chuck Noll, then in Tampa Bay (1992-95), where he also coached tight ends for two seasons, and finally in San Francisco (1996-99) where he worked under both Bill Walsh and George Seifert. Stewart helped Pittsburgh’s Rod Woodson earn Pro Bowl honors as a returner three straight years (1989-91) and he saw kicker Mike Husted earn All-Rookie honors in Tampa Bay in 1993. In San Francisco, one of Stewart’s star pupils was Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn.
For the last 17 years, Stewart has coached wide receivers, including three seasons in San Francisco (2000-02), four in Atlanta (2003-06) and 10 in Minnesota (2007-16).
In San Francisco, the 49ers advanced to the playoffs five times in Stewart’s seven seasons, including a trip to the NFC Championship Game in 1997. Under Stewart’s guidance, Terrell Owens was selected to three-straight All-Pro teams and Pro Bowls from 2000-02.
In Atlanta, the Falcons won an NFC South title in 2004 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
In Minnesota, Stewart helped wide receiver Percy Harvin earn multiple NFL Rookie of the Year honors in 2009, while fellow wideout Sidney Rice earned a Pro Bowl nod that same season after ranking second in the NFC with 1,312 receiving yards. Harvin, the Vikings’ top return man, set a Vikings franchise record with 2,081 total net yards. Also with Minnesota, Stewart oversaw Patterson’s earning of first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl accolades as the NFL’s top kick returner as a rookie in 2013. And finally in 2015, Stewart helped Stefon Diggs earn All-Rookie honors after becoming the first rookie in franchise history to lead the team in receptions.