"75 for 75" is an article series from the 49ers Museum highlighting moments in the team's history as part of the franchise's 75th Anniversary celebrations in 2021.
November 18, 1979
Joe Montana has thrown scoring passes to a startling array of 49ers greats, from Jerry Rice and Dwight Clark to Freddie Solomon and Brett Jones; however, it was tight end Bob Bruer who caught the Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback's first NFL touchdown pass.
Bruer earned an invitation to the 49ers training camp in 1979 after two stellar seasons in the Canadian Football League. At the Santa Clara University camp that season, he impressed first-year head coach Bill Walsh with his athleticism and sticky hands.
"Bob may be the best all-around player among the tight ends we have," Walsh said at the time. "At any rate, he's the best receiver."
Bruer started four games as a 49ers rookie. He showed off his excellent hands by hauling in 26 passes for 254 yards and averaging 9.8 yards per catch. His most memorable reception undoubtedly came against the Denver Broncos late in the season when he posted his first NFL touchdown and helped jumpstart Montana's remarkable career.
The 49ers trailed Denver 38-21 in the fourth quarter when Montana relieved starting quarterback Steve DeBerg. He moved the 49ers to the Broncos 16 yard line, then fired a dart over the middle into the end zone.
Observers in the press box claimed the pass looked high, but the 6-foot-5 Bruer thrust his right hand up for a one-handed catch and then tumbled into the end zone. It was the first of Montana's 318 regular and postseason touchdown passes. For Bruer, it was the only scoring reception he recorded with the 49ers.
"Bruer was the second receiver on the play," Montana said in his postgame press conference. "I was actually looking for the halfback in the flat...I wasn't expecting to go in. I was real nervous."
Before embarking on his pro football career, Bruer played college ball at Minnesota State, Mankato where he is a member of the school's Hall of Fame.