Ed Beard played linebacker for the 49ers from 1965-72, and tonight he'll once again take the football field as the 49ers Honorary Game Captain for the 49ers game against the Chargers. Check out this story on Beard by Dr. Kristine Setting Clark.
I had the opportunity and the pleasure of interviewing today's honorary game captain Ed Beard. Like most of the guys from his era, he had some wonderful stories to tell. But before I get into that, I'd like to tell you a little about Ed.
Born in Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 9, 1939, Beard was an offensive tackle out of the University of Tennessee and the 1964 draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers. Ed was drafted as what was known back then as a 'future draft choice.' He played football at Tennessee for two years and was still a junior at the time of the draft. He didn't play for the 49ers until he had graduated the following year in 1965 after a stint in the U.S. Army.
Ed, known by his teammates as "Biggie" because he always played bigger and better than his size, enjoyed an 18-year NFL career as a player and coach. He was a special teams captain and middle linebacker during his eight years with the 49ers from 1965-72 and helped San Francisco to an NFC West title in each of his final three seasons. Beard won the Len Eshmont Award in 1971 in a unanimous vote by his teammates for the honor given to the 49ers player who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, a member of the team's original 1946 squad who passed away in 1957. Beard was also the first special teams captain in NFL history. After his career was cut short by injuries, Beard served as linebackers coach for the 49ers and New Orleans Saints, and later became defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions.
Now that I have told you about Ed, I'm going to have Ed tell you a couple of stories about his playing days with the 49ers.
It was my rookie season. The 49ers put me in at the linebacker position … a position that I had never played before. I ended up having a great scrimmage … so great that the following week I started against Cleveland and the incomparable Jim Brown. What a thrill that was for me.
I eventually became one of the defensive captains and held that title for five of the eight years that I played. I was not made captain of the special teams unit until Coach Dick Nolan came to the organization. Upon retiring as a player, I became the linebacker coach for Nolan. I ended up playing and coaching a total of 18 years in the NFL.
At the time I was playing for Nolan from 1968-72, his son Mike was a bag boy at the local supermarket. He was a great bagger and we knew that the future held something great for him.
Ed had another great story.
The final game of my career in 1972 was one of the most famous 49ers games ever played at Candlestick Park. We were playing the Cowboys and Craig Morton was the starting quarterback. We were leading 28-10 all the way until the fourth quarter. Then all hell broke loose. A guy by the name of Roger Staubach replaced Morton, did some scrambling and some fine passing and before we knew it, the score was 28-23. On a Staubach pass play, Bob Hayes and I collided and he completely disintegrated my knee. I went down with a minute and a half to go in the game. Dallas had this kicker from Australia, Toni Fritsch. He used to do this thing where he'd run up to the ball and run past it, and kick it behind his back. On the kickoff, Fritsch wobbled the ball to the right bouncing it off Preston Riley. Mel Renfro recovered the ball for Dallas. Staubach hit one of his guys to set up the winning touchdown. Then with 52 seconds to play, the game-winning touchdown went to Ron Sellers capping a 15-point rally in the fourth quarter and giving Dallas a 30-28 victory. We were stunned to say the least. That was really a tough loss for the 49ers because it meant not going to the Super Bowl.
Ed's last game as a player for the 49ers may not have turned out the way he wanted it to, but today we honor him as one of the many players that have made this franchise so proud over the years.
*USF grad and author Dr. Kristine Setting Clark is a feature writer for San Francisco 49ers GAMEDAY and has authored four books entitled: "UNDEFEATED, UNTIED, AND UNINVITED" – A Documentary of the 1951 University of San Francisco Dons Football Team. The book recounts team solidarity in response to racial prejudice in American sports; "ST. CLAIR: I'LL TAKE IT RAW!" An exclusive, authorized biography on former San Francisco 49ers player and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Bob St. Clair with a foreword by Gino Marchetti. Her two most recent books are: "LILLY: A Cowboy's Life," a recently released autobiography on former Dallas Cowboy and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Bob Lilly with a foreword by Roger Staubach; and "Legends of the Hall: The Fabulous Fifties" with a foreword by Y. A. Tittle. Dr. Clark resides in Northern California with her husband and has two grown children and a grandson, Justin, who is a godson of St. Clair.