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Where Are They Now Part 3: The Offensive Line

Now we're on to my favorite players, the "Big Uglies". There have been some great offensive linemen for the 49ers over the years, that's for sure. Many of the best played for San Francisco for their entire careers--this was the case for Harris Barton and Randy Cross. I find it interesting that only one of the offensive linemen in the all-time great team was from the "Senior" class--the rest of them served in the trenches in the 80s and 90s. I have to wonder if the success of those linemen is due to their individual skill or the skill of one of the best offensive line coaches in the history of the game.

The most interesting of these players is probably Bob St. Clair

Bob St. Clair

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Bob St. Clair played football for the 49ers from 1953 to 1964. At 6'9" tall and 265 pounds he was a behemoth of a man--even by today's standards for offensive linemen he'd fit right in. He played everything--special teams (with a penchant for blocking field goals and punts), offense, and red zone defense. After his second Achilles tendon injury he hung up his cleats and called it good. He has the unique record of playing more games at one stadium than any other player in the NFL.

St. Clair attend Polytechnic High which played at Kezar stadium. He attended college at the University of San Francisco which also used the field, and then for the 49ers. The 1951 class of the USF was one of the best in the country. In fact they were invited to the Orange Bowl but the organizers told the team they would have to leave two of their black players behind in order to play. In Bob's words "We told them to go to hell." In recognition of his long playing career the city renamed the field in his honor. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990.

Back in the day football players often had to have second jobs to support their familes. From 1958 to 1964 Bob St. Clair served as mayor of Daly City. He served on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors until 1974. In 1976 he ran for San Francisco City Board of Supervisors and was defeated by Harvey Milk. After that he ran a chain of liquor stores for a while.

Now he's involved in public reations for Clover Farms. When not keeping busy with that he attends NFL memorabilia shows. He never misses the Hall of Fame weekend and attends all the 49er home games. St. Clair rooted for the Saints this year. His reasoning "They're an NFC team."

Some interesting tidbits about St. Clair. He had a penchant for eating meat raw, a habit instilled in him by his mother. When he was drafted he was offered $5500 to play--he said no and held out for a week for an extra $500 salary. St. Clair is all for a new stadium "Candlestick has had it", he said in a phone interview recently. "It's ready to be retired."

St. Clair had 6 children with his first wife whom he divorced in 1974. He remarried in 1983 and now spends much of his time visiting his 18 grand children and 11 great-grandchildren.

 

Pro Football Hall of Fame Article

Bob St. Clair's HOF profile

Clover Stornetta Farms

Niner Empire--Toughest Tailgater challenge

 

Join me after the jump as we talk about the rest of the group. 

Guy McIntyre

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Guy McIntyre had a 13 year career, 10 of which were spent with the 49ers. He holds three SuperBowl rings, and made five appearances to the Pro-Bowl. In 1984 Bill Walsh used him as a fullback/blocking halfback in the Niners defeat of the Bears. The following year Mike Ditka would employ William Perry in the same position to much success and fanfare.

McIntyre has remained closely associated with the Niners. In 1999 he started working with the team during pre-season and minicamps as an assistant coach. He's involved with the alumni board as well. When he's not doing that he's coaching offensive line at Menlo College, or working to promote his energy drink through 1in3trinity.com.

He's also involved in several charity causes, including donating time at the San Francisco food bank.

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Alumni Board

1in3trinity

 

Jesse Sapolu

Jesse Sapolu was born in Western Samoa and was a highly rated prospect before going to college. He was recruited by BYU, ASU, and Hawaii before eventually deciding on Hawaii where he had a standout career (where he played against both Jim McMahon and Steve Young). He was selected dead last in the 1983 draft by the San Francisco, and had a bit of a rough start before becoming a Pro-Bowler and a member of the all-Niner team. He had a broken leg, broke his foot twice, as well as a handful of other injuries. It got so bad with him missing playing time that he walked up to Bill Walsh one day and said he was going to quit since he wasn't doing the team any good and he wasn't getting any time on the field. Walsh told him to go home to Hawaii and relax until he was healed, and then to come back to the team. Once he was healed he became a dominating presence on the offensive line.

He played his entire career for the Niners, reaching two Super Bowls. He is one of only six 49ers to own four Super Bowl rings, and is the only NFL player to ever have open heart surgery and come back to play. Sapolu has led a fairly quiet life since retiring. He is the 49ers alumni coordinator. He also works with the 49ers to attract sponsors for their luxury boxes. When he's not doing that he coaches offensive line at Edison High School.

His kids are also involved in sports. His daughter Lila played volleyball for Chaminade University and his son has been recruited by Oregon State.

Chaminade College

Good retrospective on Sapolu

Story by the Honolulu Advertiser

 

Randy Cross

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Randy was another of those linemen who were so essential to the success of the Niners in the 1980s. He was selected in the 2nd round of the 1976 draft. He was a three time Pro-Bowler, a three time All-Pro, and a three time Super Bowl champion. He retired following the 1989 season, having played his entire career with one team. He was part of the offensive line that protected Joe Montana as he drove down the field for "The Catch". After leaving football Cross has spent most of his time in the broadcasting booth. From 1989 to 1993 he covered the NFC for CBS sports. When they lost the contract to Fox he worked for NBC sports. He worked for The NFL Today for 3 years, and currently hosts The Opening Drive on Sirius with Bob Papa. He still steps in the booth doing the odd NFL game as well as for home games for the US Naval Academy.

He lives in Alpharetta, Ga., with his wife, Patrice, and their three children, daughters Kelly, who graduated from University of Georgia in 2006 (Broadcast Journalism), and Crystal, a Bio-Medical Research student at Auburn University, and son, Brendan, studying Communications at Wake Forest University.

This is an interesting article. It's the Sports Illustrated write-up from the week following "The Catch" and it mentions Cross (though just briefly).

The Catch

 

Harris Barton

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Barton has the distinction of being one of only 5 first round offensive line picks in the history of the 49ers. He was picked 22nd overall in the 1987 draft. He retired following the 1998 seasons, having spent his entire career with the 49ers. Since leaving the 49ers Barton has gotten involved in the business world, founding HRJ capital, a private equity firm. One of his partners is his former teammate Ronnie Lott. In his spare time he loves to scuba dive as well as golf. In 2007 he finished 3rd in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament. He also has a claim to fame as being the only person (so far as anyone knows) who was there in person when Hank Aaron broke the home run record and then when Barry Bonds broke it.

 

Barton at the 2007 Pro-Am (He has his first invite from 2001 framed)

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He recently joined the board of REDF which is a non-proft. Their goal is "to create jobs for those who are most disconnected from the workforce."

REDF.org

Here's a great article from 2007 that talks about his college days
I couldn't have made it to college without football

Sports Illustrated Vault article comparing Steve Wallace and Harris Barton
Steve Wallace and Harris Barton