Tuesday's Niners Daily looks at the life and career of San Francisco 49ers Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair.
The 49ers have a rich history, complete with five Super Bowls and 14 enshrinees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The organization lost one of its key figures on Monday, when Hall of Fame tackle Bob St. Clair passed away at the age of 84.
"The Geek" was one of a kind.
The Hall of Fame offensive tackle was a nine-time All-Pro and was named to the NFL's 1950s All-Decade team.
The five-time Pro Bowler was someone who represented the organization with the utmost enthusiasm.
Owner and chairman Dr. John York said it best, "With the passing of Bob St. Clair, the 49ers organization has not only lost an all-time great but one of our most ardent supporters. One of San Francisco's favorite sons, Bob spent the better part of his life at Kezar Stadium and was quite happy to share memories of his high school days or his 49ers tenure in the beloved venue. I always looked at him as an immortal figure that possessed a tremendous joy for life and all things 49ers. We will continue to celebrate the spirit of Bob St. Clair as we remember all that he brought to this franchise and its fans. Our prayers and best wishes are with his family and friends."
Bob was always proud of his 49ers. The joyful San Franciscan made his gameday tailgate visits a routine. He would interact with fans at all times. He was also very friendly with members of the organization at any function he attended.
On a personal level, I enjoyed getting to interview St. Clair back in 2010 for a feature on his inclusion in the team's "10-year Club."
St. Clair's personality was evident in the first moments of our phone conversation when he told me that he made the franchise's "Million Dollar Backfield" famous. He later joked about putting Vaseline on his jersey to combat the effective pass-rushing talents of Gino Marchetti of the Baltimore Colts.
Beyond being a valued pass-protector for quarterback Y.A. Tittle, a fellow Hall of Famer, St. Clair lended his talents on special teams where he blocked 10 kicks. St. Clair perfected the art of leap-frogging the opposing snapper.
St. Clair summed up his kick-blocking techniques like this:
"The first couple of times, I would duck my head and plow through the center and run over the top of him with my cleats. The next time, I looked at the snapper and instead of him getting turned over backwards again and having my cleats running over his chests, he'd go down automatically on all fours. Once they did that, I'd leap-frog over the top of them and I could jump straight up and usually I could block the field goal, extra point or punt."
The only time the strategy failed was when St. Clair received a kick to the face from Norm Van Brocklin. The 49ers legend lost five teeth and had to take a shot of Novocain to stay in the game, which he did.
St. Clair had a remarkable impact on the 49ers and in other places. He served as the Mayor of Faly City from 1961-62 and did sales and public relations work for Clover, one of the largest milk providers in Northern California.
In 1990, St. Clair was inducted into the Hall of Fame with his "Million Dollar Backfield" teammates.
"Making it was a dream come true," he said. "There isn't anything higher you can do in your profession – that's it. That's the epitome. That's the top of the line."
St. Clair's name was also called on 11 years later when Kezar Stadium, the 49ers first home, named its playing field after the San Francisco legend.
St. Clair's legacy will live on with fans of the 49ers.
He was a one-of-a-kind personality who played the game the right way. He was also heavily remembered after the announcement of his passing on Monday.
Please share your memories of St. Clair in the comments of this post.