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Cedrick Hardman, 49ers all-time sack leader, passes away

Sad news for the 49ers family. Former defensive end Cedrick Hardman passed away on Friday at the age of 70. The 49ers released a statement on his passing.

“We are truly saddened by the loss of one of the all-time great 49ers, Cedrick Hardman. During his 10-year career in red and gold, he anchored the vaunted ‘Gold Rush’ defensive line with a non-stop motor that put fear in the minds of opposing quarterbacks. As a football player, Cedrick’s accomplishments were many. As a man, his impact on the lives of others was just as impressive. Our condolences and prayers go out to the Hardman family and all who are mourning the passing of Cedrick.”

The 49ers drafted Hardman in 1970, using the ninth overall pick. He spent ten seasons with the 49ers before joining the Oakland Raiders for the 1980 and 1981 seasons. Sacks did not become an official stat until 1982, but unofficially, Hardman finished his career with 127 sacks. During his time with the 49ers, Hardman had 112.5 sacks, which makes him the unofficial sack lead. The “official” leader since sacks were first recognized in 1982 is Bryant Young, with 89.5.

Hardman was listed with the franchise record for single season sacks as well, listed at 18. Aldon Smith broke that record in 2012 when he registered 19.5 sacks. However, given the unofficial nature of sacks during Hardman’s career, it is no surprise that he might have actually had more than 18 in his record-setting 1971 season. Hardman said that Oakland Tribune sports writer Dave Newhouse tracked his sacks that season and recorded 21.

“[Dave] Newhouse kept up with my sacks, he knew I had 21,” Hardman insisted. “That year we played the Cowboys and I had five on Roger Staubach in the NFC Championship game. We lost 14-3, so it didn’t matter, but that was what our Coach Dick Nolan expected of me.”

Hardman dealt with with a knee injury in 1972 that slowed him down after that record-setting season, but he eventually bounced back to earn a Pro Bowl nod in his sixth season.

Hardman spent his final two seasons in Oakland before turning to an acting career. He appeared in the Richard Pryor-Gene Wilder movie Stir Crazy, and also made appearances in TV shows like The Fall Guy and Police Woman.

Here are a couple links from over the years since Hardman retired.

Where are they now: Cedrick Hardman

Sack Master: Former All-Pro Defensive End Cedrick Hardman Instills Passion for Rushing the Quarterback in Long Beach 49ers