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Remembering R.C. Owens

Posted by Alex Espinoza on June 18, 2012 – 4:09 PM

The 49ers family lost an all-time great in the team’s rich history on Sunday, as R.C. Owens passed away peacefully at the age of 77.

With his nickname of “Alley Oop” and his infectious smile, Owens was part of the 49ers family for parts of seven decades, dating back to his playing days in the 1950s. A talented athlete who was a three-sport star at the College of Idaho, Owens became a show-stopping NFL wide receiver and enjoyed an eight-year career, including five seasons with the 49ers.

But Owens’ impact with the organization went far beyond the playing field. From 1979-2001, Owens was a key contributor for the franchise, serving various roles including Director of Training Camp and Director of Alumni Relations. It all came full circle in 2011, as Owens and Roger Craig were inducted in to the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., 49ers Hall of Fame.

The 49ers will always remember Owens for his generous spirit and for helping in a multitude of ways. 49ers Owner and Chairman John York said, “Long after his days as a player were over, his devotion to the organization remained strong. R.C. was an ever-present supporter of the 49ers Foundation and did great works with the community at large. The San Francisco 49ers and our Faithful fans will forever be grateful for his contributions and he will be sincerely missed.”

Owens and Roger Craig were also the subjects of our Week 10 Gameday cover story during last year’s contest vs. the New York Giants, as the 2011 49ers Hall of Fame inductees were honored at a fitting halftime ceremony. 49ers.com has also created  a photo gallery of Owens pictures from both on and off the court. The gallery includes rare and vintage photos from Owens’ college days and 49ers playing career, and other images of his lifelong accomplishments.

Owens was certainly a game-changer during his 49ers career and will forever be remembered for his infamous, jumping “Alley Oop” catch on a pass from quarterback Y.A. Tittle on Oct. 6, 1957. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee spoke with Owens in November to get the back story behind his famous moniker.

The 49ers weren’t the only organization to recognize Owens’ greatness. In 2010, Owens joined an esteemed class of former athletes and coaches to be inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. Later that year, Owens also served as an honorary team captain and sat down with Steve Bono for a pre-game interview.

Please join us in remembering the late, all-time 49ers great and share your memories in the comments section below. We’ll miss you, R.C.


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Posted in Announcements | 12 Comments »


12 Responses to “Remembering R.C. Owens”

  1. By Joe Pellegrino on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    God speed R.C.
    He was truely a great friend…Meeting him and talking football
    was a treat beyound explanation…I will always cherish that welcome smile.
    I will never forget Him.
    Your Friend
    Joe Pellegrino

  2. By Mike Grgich on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    RC was always a gentleman to me and my family. I always felt that he was very approachable and willing to talk. Many players are very into themselves but RC was not that way, he cared about you as much as he did himself. We will miss you RC!

  3. By dgon on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    He spoke to my HS team back in the 80′s. I saw him a few weeks later at Candlestick and he remembered me. True gentleman..I remember he had huge hands. He lived a full life. RIP

  4. By Peacebuilding Entrepreneur on Jun 19, 2012 | Reply

    My ‘best road buddy’ is now home with the rest of the NFL heavenly team. It didn’t matter what city you were in, how well the team was doing, R. C always had a smile, a hug and lots of laughter for those whom he met. The Atlanta games were always the best, but going to New Orleans and Dallas were next in line. He took time with the players, their families, friends and fans – he loved football, the 49ers and they in turn loved and respected him. I will miss his love of life. May the universe and the angels wrap their love and light with his family and friends and the 49er family.

    Rock on R. C. You are missed.

  5. By Chuck Smith on Jun 19, 2012 | Reply

    R.C. you were my mentor and friend. As a young first year teacher/coach you taught me how to work with everyone. No matter how smart they were or athletic they may seem , everyone can achieve. That there is no my team, or I coached, its” our team and we taught.” For fifteen years we worked together at training camp in Rocklin and not a day goes by that I don’t think how special it was. Thank you for teaching me how to handle RED FLAGS and stay cool under presure.That there are no little people and to treat everyone around you with respect.All the lessons,direction,relationships and memories you provided all of us will never be forgotten. Your friend Chuck Smith.

  6. By Niner Pat on Jun 19, 2012 | Reply

    I remember going to a 49er game as a teen. I was 13. I went with an afterschool program. 49ers vs atlanta. we sat on atlanta sidelines. the players came out all us kids wanted an autograph. players were about 5 feet from us . Didnt even acknowledge us. big disapointment. Then a staff member of the 49ers aproached us. he apparently saw what happened. . he says hi , tell us hes an ex player. tell us you probably dont know who im R.C. OWENS. Your parents probably do though.I asked my stepfather, he told me about him . he signed R.C OWENS ALLY OOP. We were happy . Things like this mean so much to kids . im 40 now and never forgot it. Rest in peace Mr owens and Thank you for taking the time. Ill never forget that.

  7. By Chuck Crutchfield on Jun 20, 2012 | Reply

    We lost a true gentleman, a good friend and a champion on and off the field. We will miss you R.C.

  8. By Mary Stewart on Jun 20, 2012 | Reply

    I truely appreciate the working relationship we had over the last 15 years. RC made every one of us feel important and always had time to talk. He set the bar for future 49er players to aspire to. RC will be truely missed.
    Mary Stewart Hometeam Sports Photography

  9. By Ken Soderlund on Jun 21, 2012 | Reply

    Those of us privileged enough to remember RC’s playing days, recall he brought a rare combination of uncommon athletic ability and grace to the wide receiver position. At the time when RC played, the WR position we know today was still in its development. As a long time fan of the 49ers – number 27 was one of my favorites and I will be forever grateful to have witnessed his contributions to 49er greatness. He is sorely missed as an athlete and a person!

  10. By Stanley Smith on Jun 21, 2012 | Reply

    I will always remember uncle R.C. before and after his pro football career as being a great person who knew how to make you feel 10 feet tall. I remember going on vacation with my folks in 1966 and we visited R.C. and my aunt Tina in Belmont, Ca. he showed us around Frisco and I got a chance to meet my childhood hero Willie Mays, that was the best summer ever for a 12 year old kid. Uncle R.C. will be missed but the memories and joy he brought people on and off the field will live on.

  11. By Don Kennedy on Jun 21, 2012 | Reply

    Susan and RC – always remember the wonderful memories. Love and respect. Don Kennedy friend and fan

  12. By Don Kennedy on Jun 22, 2012 | Reply

    Susan and RC – always remember the wonderful memories. love always. A friend and fan. Don Kennedy

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