Thursday, September 24, 2015

Paul Hofer: Great football player

Good to see Peter Hartlaub in last Sunday's Chronicle give a shout-out to Paul Hofer, a great Niner running back from days of yore. From a sidebar ("S.F. stars we wish we could see play") that doesn't appear on the online version of the story:

Paul Hofer (49ers, 1979) My favorite San Francisco 49ers player of all time 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. I saw him play briefly, but my only concrete memory is watching him on crutches on the sideline. I'd give my next five years of football watching to see Hofer play one more game.

I saw every game Hofer played for the Niners, either at Candlestick or on TV. He was a great football player! If the Niners had a decent respect for their own history, they would put together videos featuring highlights by early Niners like Hofer. (See Hartlaub's full-length tribute to Hofer from 2013: A tribute to Paul Hofer: Candlestick Park’s working class hero).

Hartlaub also singles out Hugh McElhenny:

(49ers, 1957) I've heard McElhenny was 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.

McElhenny was a great open-field runner. The Niners haven't had one anything like him since.

McElhenny was part of a great backfield, with Y.A. Tittle, Joe Perry, and John Henry Johnson.

Kezar Stadium, December, 1957
15-year-old Rob Anderson was there.

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