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Custom Bob St. Clair Jersey Large

Former 49ers offensive tackle Bob St. Clair, a hulking Hall of Famer and colorful San Francisco native who spent nearly his entire playing career in the city, died Monday at 84 in Santa Rosa.

USF, where Mr. St. Clair played on the famed unbeaten 1951 team, confirmed his death in a statement on its website.

“On behalf of the entire USF community, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the St. Clair family on the passing of one of the greatest Dons of all time,” USF athletic director Scott Sidwell said. “Bob was a great San Franciscan who, along with his ’51 Dons teammates, embodied the character and values of our university by taking a courageous stand against racism in the early ’50s. He will be greatly missed.”

During his 11-year career with the 49ers, Mr. St. Clair, 6-foot-9 and 270 pounds, was known for his toughness, and also for his famous habit of eating raw meat. A five-time Pro Bowl selection who spent the early part of his career playing with a leather helmet, he broke his nose at least six times, played an entire quarter with a broken shoulder, once stayed in a game after a blocked kick resulted in the loss of five teeth and twice had Achilles tendon surgery.

Before he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990, he was asked if the players of his era could have competed in the modern NFL.

Photo: Chris Hardy, SFC
IMAGE 1 OF 8
Bob St. Clair leans on the goal post at Kezar Stadium, where the field on which he played 189 games was named for him.
“I don’t think the question should be “Could we play today?’” he said. “The question is, “Could these candy-asses have played with us?’”

Kezar was a 2nd home

Mr. St. Clair, who grew up in the Mission District and Ingleside, spent all but one season of his 18-year high school, college and NFL career playing at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. The field was named after him in 2001.

After graduating from Polytechnic High School, he attended USF and was a member of one of the best college teams in Bay Area history. The 1951 Dons went 9-0 and had more than half a dozen future NFL players; three of whom — Mr. St. Clair, running back Ollie Matson and defensive end Gino Marchetti — are in the Hall of Fame. But they are best known for a game they declined to play: They chose not to go to a bowl game because their two African American players, Matson and Burl Toler, would not have been permitted to play

After USF dropped its football program following the 1951 season, Mr. St. Clair transferred to the University of Tulsa for his senior year. His heart, however, remained in San Francisco. Tulsa went 8-1-1 and received an invitation to the Gator Bowl, but St. Clair had been invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game at Kezar, which was a boyhood dream.

“The team voted 51-1 to accept the Gator Bowl bid,” he said. “Everyone was wondering who the hell voted no.”

A third-round pick of the 49ers in 1953, Mr. St. Clair spent the early part of his career opening holes for the “Million Dollar Backfield,” a quartet of quarterback Y.A. Tittle and running backs John Henry Johnson, Hugh McElhenny and Joe Perry. Each member of the foursome was inducted into the Hall of Fame by 1987. Mr. St. Clair often joked that he eventually joined them because hall voters finally realized someone had to be blocking the 49ers’ host of skill-position stars.

McElhenny, his teammate from 1953 to 1960, said Mr. St. Clair’s unique blend of size and speed made him a dominant blocker. McElhenny recalled that the only player who weighed as much as Mr. St. Clair was Les Bingaman, and the Lions defensive tackle “was just a big fat guy.”

Bigger than the rest

“I do recall sitting in my position in the backfield, and about all I would be looking at was Bob’s big ass because he was just so tall and high,” McElhenny said. “He was just so much bigger than the rest of the offensive line. And the defensive line, too. He had great speed for his size. He would have made a great tight end today. Many times, I know he gave me a lot of daylight.”

During his career, Mr. St. Clair also played defense in goal-line situations, and his height made him a special-teams force: He blocked 10 field-goal and extra-point attempts in 1956. Mr. St. Clair was a team captain and a nine-time first- or second-team all-NFL selection. He is one 12 players to have his jersey retired by the 49ers.

Off the field, his raw-meat-eating habit earned him the nickname “The Geek,” inspired by a character who was fed live chickens in the 1947 movie “Nightmare Alley.”

“My grandmother used to feed me raw meat off the kitchen table,” Mr. St. Clair once explained of his habit. “I grew to love raw liver and hearts, bird hearts, dove and quail.”

Said McElhenny: “He’d order a steak and have it thrown on the grill to take the chill off. Have it turned over and have it served. That’s how he did it. He also ate raw liver. Sometimes when you were sitting with him and he was eating that … it was kind of gross. But, no, we didn’t think anything was wrong with him. That was just how he was raised.”

Daly City’s mayor

During the latter part of his career, he served as the mayor of Daly City (1958-64). After he retired, he was an elected member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors (1966-74) and a paid lobbyist for Orange County (1979-80).

Mr. St. Clair, who earned a business degree from Tulsa and never earned more than a $20,000 salary in the NFL, also worked in insurance, air freight and in marketing for Clover Stornetta Farms in Petaluma. He bought and sold four liquor stores, and one in Noe Valley still bears his name. Fittingly, Mr. St. Clair also served as a marketing coordinator for a San Francisco meat distributor.

Mr. St. Clair settled in Santa Rosa but retained his strong connection to the 49ers and his native city. He was a longtime season-ticket holder and fumed in 2006 when the 49ers first floated the idea of playing home games in Santa Clara, a move they finally made last year.

“What a bunch of crap,” Mr. St. Clair said. “It’s not too late for the city to do something. The 49ers are a big part of this city. And if (city officials) don’t get that, they are complete idiots.”

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Custom Billy Wilson Jersey Large

A newly unearthed photo of Billy the Kid is expected to make one family fabulously wealthy. There may be no more infamous symbol of the American West in the 19th century than Billy the Kid. He went by William H. Bonney, although he was born Henry McCarty in New York to Irish immigrants. He has been part of the romanticized, outlaw image of the Old West for well over a century; his end at the hands of a friend is a famous tale that has morphed into legend.

That notoriety did not escape the notice of Hollywood, of course. A quick online search reveals more than 50 films in which Billy the Kid is either the main character or a secondary one. His last days have been the central narrative of many of them, including “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” a 1973 film by director Sam Peckinpah that endures as a classic among fans of the genre. So attracted are Americans to the story that the latter movie even features singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who finally got his chance to play an outlaw on screen — a boyhood fantasy, he said at the time.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
Card scene from Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Kris Kristofferson is Billy to the left and James Coburn as Garrett to the right. Getty Images

But images of the real Billy are few and far between, because his last day was in 1881, long before photography came into its own as a popular art form. Images in those days were captured on tin, thin sheets of the metal that rarely endured.

There was currently one confirmed image of Billy the Kid, with another alleged one. Recently, however, a second confirmed image has popped up. This rare picture of Billy the Kid playing cards at a table has surfaced and is going up for auction in Texas. It is expected to fetch $1 million (USD) when it goes on the block, perhaps more.

Billy the Kid
First confirmed image of Billy the Kid

The 1877 photo in question was handed down through the family of one of Bonney’s cowboy friends, David Anderson, who rode under the name of Billy Wilson. The family says Bonney gave the photograph to Wilson, who’s widow in turn gave it to their grandfather, and they have kept it within their ranks for more than a century. It has never been made public before now.

Billy the Kid
Alleged, unconfirmed photo of Billy the Kid (left) playing croquet in New Mexico in 1878.

Tomas Anderson II recently explained to the Irish Central news website how his family came to own the one-of-a-kind picture. “When my family went to pay their respects to the widow of David Anderson at his 1918 funeral, she gifted him with, among other items, a small leather family photo album. “She explained to my grandfather’s family about the history of the photo, and how Billy had gifted the photo to her husband.”

So a second confirmed picture of Billy the Kid (second from left) has emerged. That’s incredible considering for over a century there was only one confirmed picture. Turns out a family had this in their possession the entire time and kept it quiet. Amazing. pic.twitter.com/EyBFnKXEz0

— ( ) (@zerocool85) November 26, 2019

According to the auction house, Sofe Design Auctions of Richardson, near Dallas, there is no doubt about the photo’s authenticity. “This is historically important,” a spokesman told the Irish Central, “incredibly rare and one of a kind. It also possesses meticulous and irrefutable Anderson family provenance dating back three generations.” Furthermore, the photo has been verified by the Eastman Museum in Texas.

The picture shows Billy playing cards, presumably poker, with three other men from his gang. The Kid is wearing his distinctive top hat and waist coat, and looks more like a teenager than an outlaw. He was just 21 years old when Pat Garrett finally caught up to him.

Garrett was sheriff of Lincoln County, although he and Bonney are said to have been friends in childhood. Lore has it that when Garrett took on the mantle of sheriff, he urged his friend to get away from town, but “the Kid” refused. Soon, the sheriff did what he was supposed to do, and arrested Bonney.

The outlaw, however, didn’t remain in jail long. He soon broke out but didn’t get far; Garrett tracked him down and, as the story goes, shot his friend in the back.

Why Americans hold such fascination with the story of Billy the Kid is difficult to pin down; it is partly people’s romantic notions of the Old West at play, and partly a collective love for antiheroes. Their myths about the “wild west” factor into it as well. Their admiration for those who live outside the law while at the same time holding them accountable is a paradox of the American psyche, too.

Related Article: The Real Billy the Kid – From Humble NYC Beginnings to Wild West Infamy

Whatever the reason, this photo of Billy the Kid, and any others like it that may surface in days to come, will make rich the family about to sell it. That was something the Kid himself never achieved; in spite of his lawlessness, he didn’t manage to hang on to the money he “earned.” He was a poor man, leaving behind only a rich legacy that others continue to ponder, and be fascinated by.

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Custom Arnaz Battle Jersey Large

This week, we’re taking a look at our favorite players from the Ty Willingham era. Even though Ty was an overall terrible head coach, there were definitely some studs that played for him in his 3 years. Some were his players that succeeded under Weis, and some were recruited by Davie that came on the scene later. My favorite player is one of those Davie guys that had a breakout year with Ty. Because of that breakout year, that is why I include him on this.

Arnaz Battle was a wide receiver that had 5 years with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He actually was recruited and started off as a quarterback, but switched to wide receiver and kick returner for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. He actually didn’t have too many years of filling the stat sheets, having only 1 major season. He was a presence at QB and in the backfield, but he really broke out during that 1 season at WR when he had over 1000 all-purpose yards.

Why should you remember Arnaz Battle? Well, he only had 6 career TDs, but he had 2 of the most memorable ones for me as a young fan. See, 2002 was really the first full season that I watched for the Fighting Irish. That was the beginning of my true and passionate fandom. Arnaz gave me 2 great memories:

This one, to beat MSU, when it seemed all hope was lost:

These calls from Brent Musberger and then the great Tony Roberts are just unmatched…Holy Rudy, you definitely can’t beat that!

And also this one, helping us realize Arnaz was a road warrior:

That mocking tomahawk chop is the absolute best. Also the first play from scrimmage too, which helped spark the team to win.

Thank you, Arnaz, for your memories, and for probably making me realize my favorite number was 3.

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Custom Anquan Boldin Jersey Large

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the 2010s, the Baltimore Ravens hit the highest of highs and the lowest of lows both on-and-off the field.

The Ravens had just one season under .500 (2015) and two seasons at .500 (2013, 2016) and posted a 97-62 record, a 61 percent win percentage. They won a Super Bowl in 2013, the second in franchise history, and had numerous Hall-of-Famers wear the purple and black.

Baltimore also had a historic off-the-field incident, which started a larger discussion about how the NFL handles domestic violence.

On the field, the Ravens started the decade hot with two straight 12-4 seasons — but losses to the Steelers and the Patriots in back-to-back years kept one of the NFL’s best teams out of the Super Bowl.

In 2013, though, the Ravens avenged a loss against the Patriots the year prior and ran through the AFC en route to a 34-31 victory over the 49ers in ‘The Harbaugh Bowl.’

With Joe Flacco at quarterback for a majority of the decade, the Ravens made the playoffs six times (including 2019) and made two conference championship games.

The organization waved goodbye to Hall-of-Fame talents in Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs, as well as other franchise stalwarts like Haloti Ngata and Todd Heap.

Lewis’ send-off in the 2013 playoffs, en route to the team’s second-ever Super Bowl, was one of the team’s finest hours.

Reed’s departure followed, but his career wasn’t over quite yet. He returned to Baltimore once more, as a member of the Texans, before his playing career ended after the 2013 season.

Suggs left as the franchise leader in games played and sacks before heading to Arizona to finish out his career with the Cardinals before being waived and claimed by the Chiefs. His final chapter with the Ravens might dip into 2020, as he and the Chiefs might have one more game against the Ravens.

In the front office, Ozzie Newsome put together the sixth-best team — in terms of win-loss record — in the NFL. With a host of veterans leading the way, he added young pieces like Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, Marlon Humphrey, Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. before departing.

Newsome also brought in key role players like Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith, both of whom played major roles in the Ravens’ offense toward the end of their careers.

The team wasn’t always young throughout the decade, and Newsome wasn’t always perfect, as the team locked Flacco into a hotly-debated contract after the team’s Super Bowl win.

Flacco signed a six-year contract worth $120.6 million, a number the Ravens felt they had to pay after Flacco’s playoff performance and also a number that was prohibitive to the rest of the Ravens roster throughout the years. Flacco was traded to the Broncos in the early part of 2019 for a mid-round draft pick.

Newsome stepped aside after the 2018 season to give way to Eric DeCosta, the team’s new general manager.

Off the field, however, the organization also faced the fallout from the Ray Rice assault, where the then-popular running back struck his then-fiance and now wife, Janay Palmer, in an elevator in 2014. After months of missteps by Rice, the Ravens organization and the National Football League, Rice’s contract was terminated on Sept. 8, 2014 after video footage was released to the public of the assault on Palmer. Rice never played in the NFL again.

The Rice incident was the lowest moment in a decade which was mostly filled with good feelings for the Ravens organization.

The team had, and still has, Marshal Yanda, who developed into a Hall of Fame talent in the 2010s. Coach John Harbaugh adapted as a coach and made the Ravens’ offense the NFL’s best in relatively short order.

In a decade of transition, the Ravens had more ups and downs that might be expected for a perennial Super Bowl contender.

If there was an organization that had seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in the 2010s, it was the Baltimore Ravens.

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Custom Nick Bosa Jersey Large

Defensive end Nick Bosa has unfortunately been out of action with a hamstring injury for most of his early scheduled practices with the San Francisco 49ers, but at least he’s been making a good impression while doing what he can from the sidelines.

Bosa joined the 49ers on April 25 when they made him their selection with the second overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. He then was forced to the sidelines on May 21 when he strained his hamstring during the team’s second OTA (Organized Team Activities) practice of the spring. Despite the injury keeping him out until the start of training camp in late July, Bosa has managed to shine nonetheless, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.

“For not being out there very much, I’ve been very impressed,” Shanahan told reporters Tuesday. “He’s been one of the guys. He’s not too loud, doesn’t try to stand out but also doesn’t sit there and hide in the corner. He’s one of the guys. I think he’s fit in very well. I think he’s very attentive in his meetings. I think he enjoys football. He’s not a guy who’s falling asleep in the meetings just because he can’t practice that day. He enjoys watching it. He enjoys watching other people and learning from other people. He’s been handling himself great so far.”

What’s Bosa been doing to improve while out with his injury? Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek spelled that out while speaking to reporters on May 29.

“Every mental rep that he can get, put yourself in the play from the play call, try to get him the play call, he knows what it is, he sees the formation, sees where he would line up, get on his keys and see how he would react to the situation like he was in there,” Kocurek said. “And then a bunch of work behind closed doors in the film room, getting with him on the board, watching practice, watching some of my stuff from previous years, watching some of the guys, studying them as much as he possibly can. As much mental work as he can possibly get right now, we’re utilizing.”

It would have obviously been an ideal situation for Bosa to stay healthy throughout the remainder of the spring workout schedule, as it would have helped him get his feet wet from a practice perspective while also giving him a chance to get some work in after missing much of his 2018 season at Ohio State due to core muscle surgery. But once he returns, Shanahan expects Bosa will be able to pick things up quickly due in part to the position he plays.

“Yeah, definitely,” Shanahan said. “I think there’s not as many variables that go into it. You’ve got to beat the guy in front of you. If you don’t know what you’re doing but you beat the guy in front of you every single time, you’re going to be alright, where there is more to that at another position. Everybody wants to be out there and get reps – that’s what you need to get better – but we’ll get him healthy and it’ll make him hopefully better for him to get reps at training camp.”