Bob St. Clair

Last updated

Bob St. Clair
Bob St. Clair at 49ers Family Day 2009.JPG
St. Clair in June 2009
No. 79
Position: Tackle
Personal information
Born:(1931-02-18)February 18, 1931
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Died:April 20, 2015(2015-04-20) (aged 84)
Santa Rosa, California, U.S.
Height:6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Weight:263 lb (119 kg)
Career information
High school: San Francisco Polytechnic
College: San Francisco / Tulsa
NFL draft: 1953  / Round: 3 / Pick: 32
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:119
Fumbles recovered:7
Player stats at PFR

Robert Bruce St. Clair (February 18, 1931 – April 20, 2015) was an American professional football player who played 11 seasons as a tackle for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). Known for his intelligence and towering size, at 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) tall, St. Clair earned All-Pro honors nine times and is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played college football for the San Francisco Dons and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

Contents

College career

A native San Franciscan, St. Clair attended San Francisco Polytechnic High School (located across the street from Kezar Stadium) and the University of San Francisco, and was part of USF's undefeated 1951 team. Since USF did not return to field a football team for the 1952 season, St. Clair finished his college career at the University of Tulsa. [1]

Professional career

St. Clair was drafted by the 49ers in the third round of the 1953 NFL draft. He played his entire 11-year professional career in San Francisco, making his year at Tulsa the only season he did not play home games in Kezar Stadium. [1]

He began his career by successfully holding out for a $6,000 rookie salary. [1] [2] In his first preseason, he earned his spot on the 1953 team by holding his own against defensive tackle Leo Nomellini in practice. [3] Primarily an offensive tackle, he played alongside the Million Dollar Backfield, whose halfback Hugh McElhenny considered him a dominant blocker. [4] [5] He started every game for the 49ers from 1954 to 1956, when he also received his first Pro Bowl selection. [6]

Due to his size, St. Clair was also an effective special teams player. He blocked 19 field goals over the course of his career, [7] ten of which came in 1956, [3] [5] and was instrumental in Abe Woodson's 105-yard kick return touchdown in 1959. [3]

His only postseason game came in 1957. After missing eight weeks with a shoulder injury early in the season, [8] St. Clair returned as the 49ers ended the season with an 8–4 record, tying the Detroit Lions to force a one-game playoff, which Detroit won in a 31–27 comeback victory. [9]

St. Clair once again started at least ten games in each of the 1958–1961 seasons, receiving Pro Bowl honors each year. [6] He missed time due to an Achilles injury in 1962, but returned to play the entire 1963 season, [3] [6] for which he received the 49ers' Len Eshmont Award. [10] During the 1964 preseason, he injured his other Achilles tendon during punt return practice, requiring career-ending surgery. [11]

A perennial team captain, St. Clair was nicknamed "The Geek" [lower-alpha 1] by his teammates due to his eccentric off-the-field behavior, including a habit of eating raw meat, which he frequently used to intimidate 49ers rookies. [3] [4]

St. Clair was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. [3] [6] On January 19, 2001, the city of San Francisco renamed the field at Kezar Stadium in his honor in recognition of the 189 home games he played there, and his number was retired by the 49ers later that year. [1] [12]

Personal life

While still an active player, St. Clair was elected to Daly City's city council in 1958, [13] [14] which included a term as mayor from 1961 to 1962; [15] one of his mayoral and council colleagues was his high school coach Joe Verducci. [16] The 49ers made arrangements for him to fly back to Daly City for council business during road trips. [17] He was the county supervisor for San Mateo County from 1966 to 1974. For many years he owned a liquor store at 24th and Sanchez in Noe Valley, which still bears his name. [1]

St. Clair broke his hip in February 2015; complications led to his death in Santa Rosa, California, on April 20, 2015, at the age of 84. [5]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kezar Stadium</span> Outdoor athletic and football stadium in San Francisco

Kezar Stadium is an outdoor athletics stadium in San Francisco, California, located adjacent to Kezar Pavilion in the southeastern corner of Golden Gate Park. It is the former home of the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL) and of the San Francisco Dragons of Major League Lacrosse. It serves as the home of San Francisco City FC of USL League Two.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mike Singletary</span> American football player and coach (born 1958)

Michael Singletary, nicknamed "Samurai Mike", is an American former football player and coach. He played as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL). After playing college football for the Baylor Bears, Singletary was selected by the Bears in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft and was known as "the Heart of the Defense" for their Monsters of the Midway defense in the mid-1980s. He was part of their Super Bowl XX championship team that beat the New England Patriots. Singletary was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jack Christiansen</span> American football player and coach (1928–1986)

Jack LeRoy Christiansen was an American professional football player who became a college and pro coach. He played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for the Detroit Lions as a safety and return specialist from 1951 to 1958. He helped lead the Lions to three NFL championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957 and was a first-team All-NFL player in six of his eight years in the league. He led the NFL in interceptions in 1953 and 1957 and in punt returns for touchdown in 1951, 1952, 1954, and 1956. His eight career punt returns for touchdowns was an NFL record until 1989 and remains the fourth best in league history. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jimmy Johnson (cornerback)</span> American football player (1938–2024)

James Earl Johnson was an American professional football player for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1961 to 1976. In 1980, he was named as a first-string cornerback on the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, and in 1994, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joe Perry (American football)</span> American football player (1927–2011)

Fletcher Joseph Perry was an American professional football fullback who played in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and National Football League (NFL). He played for the San Francisco 49ers from 1948 to 1960, the Baltimore Colts from 1961 to 1962, and returned to the 49ers in 1963 for his final year in football. He was exceptionally fast, a trait uncommon for a fullback and one which earned him the nickname, "the Jet". The first African-American to be named the NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP), he became one of American football's first black stars.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Henry Johnson</span> American gridiron football player (1929–2011)

John Henry Johnson was an American professional football player who was a running back. He was known for his excellence at the fullback position as both a runner and a blocker. His first professional stint was in Canada in the Western Interprovincial Football Union for one season with the Calgary Stampeders. He then played in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, and Pittsburgh Steelers before spending his final season in the American Football League (AFL) with the Houston Oilers. Commonly referred to as simply John Henry, an allusion to the folk hero of the same name, Johnson was a tough and tenacious player who performed at a high level well into the tail end of his career.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ollie Matson</span> American football player and sprinter (1930–2011)

Ollie Genoa Matson II was an American Olympic medal winning sprinter and professional football player. He played as a halfback and return specialist in the National Football League (NFL) from 1952 to 1966 for the Chicago Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams. He played college football for the San Francisco Dons and was selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the 1952 NFL draft.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gary "Big Hands" Johnson</span> American football player (1952–2010)

Gary Lynn "Big Hands" Johnson was an American professional football defensive tackle who played in the National Football League (NFL). He was a four-time All-Pro and a four-time Pro Bowl selection. He played the majority of his NFL career with the San Diego Chargers, and he was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dave Wilcox</span> American football player (1942–2023)

David Wilcox was an American professional football player who was a linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1964 through 1974. He was selected to play in seven Pro Bowls and was named All-NFL five times during his career. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

Barron Steven Wallace is an American former professional football player who was an offensive tackle for 12 seasons in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. He has since been recognized as having helped revolutionize the position of left tackle. In May 2012, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Monte Dale Clark was an American football player who served as head coach for the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions. He played college football at USC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frankie Albert</span> American gridiron player and coach (1920–2002)

Frank Cullen Albert was an American professional football player and coach. He played as a quarterback and punter with the San Francisco 49ers in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and later in National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the Stanford Indians, where he led the 1940 football team to an undefeated season and the 1941 Rose Bowl.

Thomas Michael Cousineau is an American former professional football player who was a linebacker in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and National Football League (NFL) for nine seasons during the 1970s and 1980s. He played college football for Ohio State University, and twice earned All-American honors. He was the first overall pick of the 1979 NFL draft, and played professionally for the CFL's Montreal Alouettes and the NFL's Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Patrick Willis</span> American football player (born 1985)

Patrick L. Willis is an American former professional football player who spent his entire eight-year Hall of Fame career as a linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the 49ers in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft. He played college football for the Ole Miss Rebels, earning consensus All-American honors in 2006.

Charles Andrew Krueger was an American professional football player who was a defensive tackle for 15 seasons in the National Football League (NFL), all with the San Francisco 49ers. He played college football at Texas A&M, where he was a two-time All-American. He is a member of several halls of fame, including the Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame, San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame, National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dick Stanfel</span> American football player and coach (1927–2015)

Richard Anthony Stanfel was an American professional football player and coach in the National Football League (NFL). He played as a guard, and his college and professional career spanned more than 50 years from 1948 to 1998. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player in 2016. He was also named to the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team.

James Michael LeClair was an American football player and coach. He played professionally as a linebacker for 12 seasons, from 1972 to 1983, in the National Football League (NFL) with the Cincinnati Bengals and two seasons, from 1984 to 1985, in the United States Football League (USFL) with the New Jersey Generals. LeClair played college football at University of Minnesota Crookston and the University of North Dakota. He served as the head football coach at Mayville State University in Mayville, North Dakota, from 1986 to 1988. LeClair was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1999.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Billy Wilson (wide receiver)</span> American football player (1927–2009)

Billy Wilson was an American football wide receiver who played for the San Francisco 49ers from 1951 to 1960. He was named to the Pro Bowl six times.

The San Francisco Dons football program were the intercollegiate American football team for University of San Francisco located in San Francisco, California. The team competed in NCAA Division II as a Division II Independent football program. The school's first football team was fielded in 1917. The program disbanded in 1982.

<i>51 Dons</i> American TV series or program

'51 Dons is a 2014 American documentary film directed by Ron Luscinski and written by Luscinski, Tom Davis and Danny Llewelyn. Narrated by Johnny Mathis, it covers the 1951 San Francisco Dons football team and its unique stand against racism. The team, including future NFL players and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Bob St. Clair and Gino Marchetti, declined an invitation to play in the Orange Bowl that would have required them to leave their African-American players Ollie Matson and Burl Toler home. This act was one of the contributing factors that led to the end of organized football at the University of San Francisco. The university's athletic news director, Pete Rozelle, went on to become the commissioner of the NFL, where he reshaped American football.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Kislingbury, Graham (February 6, 2010). "Bob St. Clair: The King of Kezar". Corvallis Gazette-Times .
  2. Travers, Steven (2009). The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: San Francisco - Heart-Pounding, Jaw-Dropping, and Gut-Wrenching Moments from San Francisco 49ers History. Triumph. p. ix. ISBN   978-1600782794.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Smith, Don (May 2, 1990). "Pro Football Hall of Fame to induct 49ers' St. Clair". The Press-Courier. pp. 15, 17.
  4. 1 2 Branch, Eric (April 20, 2015). "Bob St. Clair, Hall of Fame 49ers lineman, dies at 84". SFGate.
  5. 1 2 3 Steve Chawkins, "Bob St. Clair dies at 84, Hall of Fame offensive lineman for 49ers", Los Angeles Times , September 21, 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "Bob St. Clair Height, Weight, Position, Draft, College". Pro-Football-Reference.com . Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  7. Jacobs, Martin S. (2005). San Francisco 49ers. Arcadia. p. 55. ISBN   0738529664.
  8. Chandler, John (December 1, 1967). "Browns Meet Chicago Cards At Cleveland". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. p. 6-C.
  9. "Lions' Thrilling Rally Wins Playoff, 31–27". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. December 22, 1957. p. 20.
  10. "49ers Team Awards" . Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  11. "Freak Injury Threatens Pro Career Of St. Clair". St. Petersburg Times. San Francisco. Associated Press. September 15, 1964. p. 3-C.
  12. Graham, Ricci (December 3, 2001). "Flooded Parking Lots Keep Fans Out of 3Com Park". The San Francisco Examiner. San Francisco, California. p. B8 via Newspapers.com.
  13. "For 49ers' St. Clair, Football And Politics Add Up to Success". The Miami Herald . AP. August 7, 1958. Retrieved March 24, 2021 via Newspapers.com.
  14. "St. Clair Elected Daly City Official". Oakland Tribune . AP. April 10, 1958. Retrieved March 24, 2021 via Newspapers.com.
  15. "Daly City Elects Bob St. Clair Mayor". The Dispatch / The Rock Island Argus . AP. April 22, 1961. Retrieved March 24, 2021 via Newspapers.com.
  16. "49er Tackle St. Clair Seeks Council Post". The Sacramento Bee . AP. February 11, 1958. Retrieved March 24, 2021 via Newspapers.com.
  17. "St. Clair's Success Formula; Pro Football, Politics, Beer". St. Joseph News-Press. Daly City, California. Associated Press. August 6, 1958. p. 14.

Notes

  1. In reference to Tyrone Power's character in the 1947 film Nightmare Alley .