During the off-season, the 49ers acquired running backO.J. Simpson from Buffalo. Although Simpson had been one of the best backs in the league over the previous decade, he was in poor physical condition and had recently undergone knee surgery. As a result, his playing ability was limited.
The 49ers finished with the worst record in the league and scored only 219 points the fewest in the league in 1978. The team set an NFL record with 63 turnovers.