Bob St. Clair dies at 84; Hall of Fame football player for S.F. 49ers

Bob St. Clair dies at 84; Hall of Fame football player for S.F. 49ers
Football star Bob St. Clair, shown in 1963, was known for his speed, toughness and uncanny blocking ability.

Hall of Fame offensive tackle Bob St. Clair, a five-time Pro Bowler with a big personality who played all 11 of his seasons with his hometown San Francisco 49ers, has died. He was 84.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame, the 49ers and the University of San Francisco announced St. Clair's death Monday.


A 6-foot-9 right tackle known for his speed, toughness and uncanny blocking ability in the passing and running games, St. Clair was a third-round draft pick by San Francisco in 1953.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990 — 27 years after his final season of 1963 — and was nearly as famous for eating raw meat as he was for his football skills.

He shared with the Hall of Fame's website in a 2000 online chat how he received his nickname "The Geek."

"Because of my eating habits! There was a movie that came out with Tyrone Power where he was locked in a cage and called 'geek,'" he said. "They used to throw live chickens in there and that's where it came from.… However, I only let my friends call me that!"

The 49ers retired his No. 79 uniform at Candlestick Park in 2001.

St. Clair played for the University of San Francisco's unbeaten 1951 team that took a stand against racism. He was one of eight future NFL players on the team who chose not to accept an invitation to a bowl game because of a stipulation that it play without its two African American players.

USF awarded each member of that team an honorary doctorate degree in 2005.

"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," said USF Athletic Director Scott Sidwell.

St. Clair was also a politician during and after his football career, serving as mayor of Daly City, Calif., and as a member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

A longtime resident of Sonoma County, St. Clair was born Feb. 18, 1931, in San Francisco.

Janie McCauley writes for the Associated Press.