7 San Francisco Football Stars We'd Have Paid to See
We're heading to S.F. football fields of the past, to choose the prep, college and pro stars we’d most like to see in person. We have a few rules: We’re only choosing games that might have been played in the city limits and our choices are limited to before the 1980s. Read more about football in S.F.: http://sfchron.cl/1QgNmYY (via Peter Hartlaub)
- •Len Eshmont (49ers, 1946)After hearing about the Len Eshmont Award going to so many modern 49ers greats, we wanted to see the running back live. Specifically the first 49ers touchdown — a throw from Frankie Albert to Johnny Strzykalski, lateraled to Eshmont for the 40-yard score.
- •Bob St. Clair (Polytechnic High, 1948)The greatest lineman in S.F. history played all but one season of his games at Kezar Stadium. He dominated throughout his career, but we’d like to see him when he was a man among boys at Polytechnic High School.
- •Burl Toler (USF, 1951)The 1951 USF team included future NFL greats Ollie Matson, Gino Marchetti and St. Clair. The Dons went undefeated but were denied a bowl game because of racism in the South. We want to see Toler, a feisty linebacker whose pro career was derailed by a serious injury. Toler went on to become the first African American official in the NFL.
- •Tony Serra (Lincoln High, 1952)Yes, that Tony Serra. The civil rights lawyer and subject of the movie “True Believer” was a baseball and football star for Lincoln High. He played as a sophomore and excelled in a pass-heavy offense.
- •Hugh McElhenny (49ers, 1957)Stories abound about McElhenny being incredible to watch live, weaving back and forth on the Kezar Stadium field for 40-yard touchdowns that covered 140 yards of ground. He averaged 8 yards per carry in an injury-shortened 1954 season, but we’re choosing 1957 — arguably the 49ers’ greatest season of their first 35 years.
- •Dan Fouts (St. Ignatius College Prep, 1967)The prep legend played two years at St. Ignatius before a stellar career at the University of Oregon and with the San Diego Chargers. We’ll find a seat next to his dad, Bob Fouts, a longtime broadcaster for the 49ers, San Francisco Warriors and San Francisco Seals baseball team. We may have to take a side trip to see O.J. Simpson at Galileo High. Right now, he doesn’t make it for personal reasons.
- •Paul Hofer (49ers, 1979)Hofer was the first pro running back to thrive in Bill Walsh’s innovative offense (58 receptions in 1979) but sadly his career was disrupted by knee injuries. We'd pay to see him play one more game.