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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
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 Blaine Gabbert Jersey Large

The regular season is winding down for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and at 7-7 they will miss the playoffs for the 12th-straight season.

But, the Bucs still have a lot to play for. If they win out, they’ll finish 9-7 for their first winning record since 2016. For a team that was 3-7 just last month, riding a six-game winning-streak into the offseason would be a great way to finish out the year.

For quarterback Jameis Winston, the past month has gone a long way in convincing the Bucs that he deserves at least one more year playing for Bruce Arians. While Winston has thrown a league-leading 24 interceptions, he also has 30 touchdown passes and is on pace to surpass 5,000 passing yards. And, after his 458-yard day against the Detroit Lions in Week 15, Winston became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 450 or more yards in back-to-back games. (He had 456 against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14.)

Winston’s improved play over the past month has helped his case to remain the team’s quarterback. But, that may not have been the case had quarterback Blaine Gabbert remained healthy.

It’s easy to forget that Gabbert, a former first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was signed in the offseason to be Winston’s backup. Gabbert had played under Arians during the coach’s time with the Arizona Cardinals, so he had a familiarity with the offensive system. But, Gabbert injured his non-throwing shoulder in the third preseason game and ended up on IR shortly after.

Had Gabbert not been injured, you have to believe that he would’ve gotten a chance at some point this season to relieve Winston. Let’s go back to Week 6 in London, for example. Winston ended up throwing five interceptions in a loss to the Carolina Panthers in what was easily the worst performance of his professional career. The Bucs went into the bye week before traveling to Tennessee to take on the Titans in Week 8.

That would’ve been the best time to have Gabbert replace Winston as starter. Gabbert would have had the bye week to prepare, and, best of all, he played for the Titans in 2018, meaning he likely had a good feel for what the defense would try.

If Bruce Arians was looking for a spark, that would’ve been the time to try and make a switch. Look what happened after the Titans replaced Marcus Mariota with Ryan Tannehill. The Titans went from the doldrums of the AFC to playoff contenders under Tannehill. While there’s no way to say that would’ve been the case for the Bucs if Gabbert came in, you have to believe Arians would’ve at least given him a shot at some point, given the way Winston has struggled at times. But, with Gabbert unavailable and the team unwilling to turn to Ryan Griffin, Arians stuck with Winston through the good times and bad.

And, as the past month has shown, that decision by Arians looks to finally be paying off.

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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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Aradio sports anchor and an international climate change economist will be the newest members of the Kennedy Middle School Hall of Fame after ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. March 21 at the school’s Gary Beban Gymnasium.

The induction, open to the public, will honor Steve Bitker, the morning-drive sports anchor at KCBS since joining the San Francisco Bay Area station 18 years ago, and Carter Brandon, for 23 years a World Bank economist working to focus global attention on adapting to climate change. Bitker and Brandon, both 1967 graduates of Kennedy, will share the speaker’s platform with Beban, the 1965 winner of the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top college football player.

Bitker has been the morning-drive sports anchor at KCBS since joining the station in April 1991 and has won many broadcasting awards. He is the author of “The Original San Francisco Giants” (Sports Publishing Inc.), which profiles every player of that 1958 team.

Brandon held leading positions at the World Bank in its environment, agriculture, social, poverty and climate change sectors. He moved in February to the World Resources Institute to work with the Global Commission on Climate Change Adaptation, led by former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates and Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank CEO. For good measure, he’s a Rhodes Scholar and played bassoon in the Paris Symphony in 1972.

The Hall of Fame, one of the few in the country for a middle school, was founded in 2001 by physical education teacher Bret Baird, with Beban, former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry and former Redwood City Mayor Daniela Gasparini among the first of 24 members representing success in a variety of professions. Several of them will be at the March 21 ceremony, Baird said.

His message to current Kennedy students: “This could be you!”

“It’s always a fun community event,” Baird said. “There is audience participation and entertainment by school music groups.”

NOW IT CAN BE TOLD: Diana Reddy, who won a hotly and closely contested race for Redwood City City Council last November, got her start as a candidate at a very early age indeed. At a January event at the home of Alyn Beals, Jr., Reddy disclosed the details of their early childhood education in politics. Both were in the sixth grade at Lincoln School running for student body offices. His presidential slogan was “Don’t Be Heels, Vote for Beals,” which took him to victory.

Her campaign slogan for vice president was “Don’t Be a Banana, Vote for Diana.” That one didn’t seem to have as much a-peel and she lost.

Lincoln School, by the way, was located at Whipple Avenue and Oakdale Street and was razed in 1974 because of … declining enrollment.

Sound familiar?

CONGRATS: Congratulations to Redwood City resident Bill Schulte, a long-time volunteer with Sustainable San Mateo County, who will receive the organization’s Ruth Peterson Award at its 20th annual award dinner on April 4. A 55-year county resident, Schulte has been involved with SSMC for more than 13 years, serving on the board from 2006 and as its chair from 2008 to 2014.

REDWOOD SHORES CONTEST: Residents and workers from Redwood Shores have an opportunity to enter a contest about something that promises to be exciting – and boring too. Silicon Valley Clean Water, a multi-city agency that operates the wastewater facility on Radio Road, has a major project underway to replace and rehabilitate the entire conveyance system that serves much of southern San Mateo County. Part of the project includes building three miles of tunnel to the treatment plant. A huge Tunnel Boring Machine (aka a TBM) will be arriving in July, which will dig out the tunnel and install a new pipeline underground, sparing everyone the prolonged disruption and delays that would occur with open-cut trenching along Redwood Shores Parkway. The tunneling will occur up to 60 feet below the busy arterial.

Tradition dictates that a TBM can’t begin work until it has been named, a sign of good luck for the project ahead. The TBM that will be deployed in Redwood Shores can be named after a real or fictitious person, character, or thing, and the name should be reflective of SVCW’s mission. Besides getting the winning name displayed on the TBM, the winner will get a rare opportunity for the ultimate Redwood Shores underground tour – inside the TBM.

The contest is open to Redwood Shores residents and workers 18 and older. For complete rules and information, go to

In a similar contest, the name “Chessie” was selected for a project at Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. The abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who helped rescue fugitive slaves via the Underground Railroad, has been honored at least twice with TBMs called “Harriet.” In Fort Wayne, Indiana, the name “MaMaJo” was created from the first two letters of the city’s three rivers.

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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.”