Former 49ers RB/DB Sam Cathcart Passes Away at 90

A yearly tradition that brings together players and coaches, the 49ers team photo highlights the many faces who have donned red and gold. Here they are, in order.

Samuel W. Cathcart, a former San Francisco 49ers running back and defensive back, passed away at the age of 90 surrounded by his family on April 3 in Santa Barbara.

He played three seasons for the 49ers (1949, 1950 and 1952), amassing 509 rushing yards, 296 receiving yards and seven interceptions.

Sam was born to Alfred and Myrtle Cathcart on a farm in Canute, Oklahoma on July 7, 1924, the fourth of five children. Sam's family moved to Pasadena, California in 1927 and to Long Beach shortly thereafter. He graduated from Long Beach Poly High School in 1942 and attended Long Beach City College before being drafted into the United States Army in January, 1943. An infantry squad leader in the 291st Regimental Combat Team of the Army's newly formed 75th Division, his World War II combat service included the Battle of the Bulge, Central Europe and the Colmar Pocket, where he was both decorated and wounded.

He was discharged on February 2, 1946 and took advantage of the G.I. Bill to enroll at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he majored in physical education and military science. He became the first cadet colonel of the UCSB ROTC and received his commission to second lieutenant in 1949. A career Army Reserve Officer, Sam reached the rank of lieutenant colonel and served as commanding officer of the then Santa Barbara-based 425th Civil Affairs Unit before retiring his commission in 1975. While at UCSB, Sam earned honors as an All-CCAA halfback in football, was a conference track and field champion and CCAA boxing champion. After graduation, he joined the 49ers as an invited free agent and played in the 1949, 1950 and 1952 seasons, having been recalled to active duty during the Korean War, which forced him to miss the entire 1951 season while serving as a physical training officer at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco.

In 1953, Sam began a 35-year teaching and coaching career at Santa Barbara High School. As head coach of the varsity football team from 1955 through 1974, he guided the Dons to 10 Channel League Championships, the 1960 CIF Southern Section AAAA title and an overall win-loss record of 143-34-9. Sam was married to his high-school sweetheart, the former Susan Elaine Curry in 1944, raised four children and enjoyed 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, with a ninth due in October. He is an inducted member of the Long Beach Poly High School Football Hall of Fame, the Long Beach City College Hall of Champions, the UC Santa Barbara Athletic Hall of Fame, the Santa Barbara Athletic Roundtable Hall of Fame, the Long Beach Century Club Hall of Fame and the CIF Southern Section Hall of Fame. In 2014, he was honored by the French Consulate General and in 2015 by the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation for his military service and action in World War II.

In lieu of flowers, Sam's final wish was for friends and colleagues to contribute to the Santa Barbara High School Peabody Stadium Restoration Fund (P.O. Box 158, Santa Barbara, CA 93102). The family plans a private memorial for both Sam and Susan on their 71st Anniversary in May.

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