The San Francisco 49ers will continue to recognize its alumni by selecting an honorary game captain for each of its home contents during the 2008 season at Candlestick Park. Honorary game captains reconnect with the 49ers family, while also participating in the coin flip prior to the start of the game. This Sunday, former defensive end Kevin Fagan will serve as the Honorary Game Captain. Check out this feature story on the former player. KEVIN FAGAN - POSITION: DEFENSIVE END - HEIGHT: 6-FOOT-3 - WEIGHT: 260 POUNDS
HIGH SCHOOL: JOHN I. LEONARD HIGH SCHOOL (LAKE WORTH, FL) - COLLEGE: MIAMI (FL) - SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: 1987-93
As Bill Walsh came out of the 49ers draft room in 1986, he announced, "I feel very good about it, but I condition those remarks." He meant that nothing was guaranteed, but he felt he did what he could. Walsh had no idea this draft would turn out as good as it did.
Despite having no first round picks, the '86 draft helped produce many key components of the 49ers championship teams of 1988 and 1989. Eight of the draftees that San Francisco chose that day started for the 49ers in their Super Bowl XXIII victory over Cincinnati to cap the 1988 season, including three players – tackle Steve Wallace, wide receiver John Taylor and linebacker/defensive end Charles Haley – that would end up Pro Bowlers. The five others included cornerbacks Tim McKyer and Don Griffin, defensive end Larry Roberts, fullback Tom Rathman and Sunday’s honorary game captain Kevin Fagan.
Fagan was a 6-3, 260-pound defensive end out of the University of Miami known for bench-pressing 560 pounds – the heaviest bench press by a Hurricane football player at the time. Walsh called Fagan “a dynamic leader – someone he was proud to have been associated with.”
The University of Miami Hall of Fame member was also a part of the historic 1984 Orange Bowl win over Nebraska. In one of the most exciting games in the history of college football, underdog Miami clinched its first national championship with a 31-30 win over the top-ranked and previously unbeaten Cornhuskers.
Fagan continued his winning ways as a pro, playing for a pair of Super Bowl Champions and seven NFC West winners during his eight NFL seasons, all with San Francisco. When he decided to retire at just 30 years old in 1993 he was very satisfied.
“Some retired players move easily into business or broadcasting, while others find it difficult to fill their days with meaningful, enjoyable pursuits while struggling to recapture the glory and rush of competition,” he commented. “But other than missing my buddies and the game day high, I don’t. When I retired I was at the point where my body was beat up and the decision was easy.”
With his NFL career complete, Kevin found a way to spend time with his children while still fueling his competitive fire.
“I remember my defensive line coach telling me his daughter was graduating high school and he didn’t even know her,” he said. “I decided right then and there that I would know my kids.”
It’s not that Kevin was completely done with football – or coaching.
After spurning a 49ers invitation to coach immediately after his playing career was done, Fagan finally gave into the coaching bug nearly a decade later when former Dunnellon High School football coach Perry Brown asked him to help.
He stayed five years before moving on.
“I had been coaching for five years,” Fagan said. “It finally dawned on me that I was spending too much time coaching – that I should be spending this time with my own children.”
But along with his family, he still loved competing coaching, and finally found a way to combine it all.
“I love competing,” he said. “When you are coaching you are competing against another coach. It fills a void because when you leave football – after competing for so long, you need some level of competition in your life. I think I get more out of it than the kids do. It’s the most rewarding thing to me. I should be thanking them for letting me coach.”
He has plenty of people to thank.
Fagan has been able to coach his kids and become a well-known youth coach in his home area, taking the sidelines for a variety of teams including the Citrus Springs Middle School and Dunnellon Might Mite Pop Warner football teams, a Nature Coast soccer 10 and under coed team and the Dunnellon Heat – a 14 and under traveling softball team.
Fagan has a gift for coaching and the kids just adore him. He has the incentive and drive to motivate kids to do well. He works his athletes hard in practice and doesn’t allow slacking. He is the first to arrive and the last to leave. He sets up the field, repaints the lines and picks up the equipment.
Kevin is also a great disciplinarian.
“I don’t think you can have too much discipline,” he said. “As long as you respect them, don’t talk down to them or belittle them, they don’t have a problem.”
Nancy, Kevin’s wife, knows that her husband has a gift for coaching and suggested that he apply for the University of Miami defensive line coaching position.
But he really enjoys what he’s doing right now.
“I’d never coach at that level,” he said. “No way, it’s just too many hours. Right now I have the perfect life. I enjoy every single day. I go fishing with my dad; I coach my kids and spend lots of time with them. I’m living the perfect life. There are no unfulfilled areas.”
Fagan seems to have made the right choices in life and has had the chance to live happily through all of them. He’s a very fortunate individual.