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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