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Former 49er Cleveland Elam Passes Away

Posted by Taylor Price on July 18, 2012 – 3:15 PM

Former San Francisco 49ers defensive end Cleveland Elam passed away last week on July 12th. He was 60 years old.

A native of Memphis, TN, Elam attended Tennessee State University in Nashville, where he was a 1974 Pittsburgh Courier All-America selection. His junior year, Elam and Tennessee State went 10-0 and captured the Black College National Championship. He was drafted by the 49ers in the 4th round (85th overall) of the 1975 NFL Draft. Elam produced immediately as a member of the 49ers Gold Rush defensive line which led the NFL in sacks during the 1976 season. Elam had a team high, 17.5 sacks the following season. He was twice voted to the Pro Bowl in 1976 and 1977, as well as named First-Team All-Pro in 1977. His career was cut short in 1979 due to injuries. Last season during the 49ers alumni weekend in the Bay Area, Elam was honored for his time with the team.

He is survived by his wife Blanche and their four children. A memorial service will be held at Gethsemane Baptist Church in Salisbury, NC on July 21st at noon.

Posted in Announcements | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Former 49er Cleveland Elam Passes Away”

  1. By HMW on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    I loved Cleveland and the rest of the Gold Rush DL of the late 70s. Condolences to his family.

  2. By Shirley Caracci on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    I remember Nr,. Elam. The “Gold Rush” line was the brightest experience of the ’70’s. Condolensces to the Elam family.

  3. By RED&GOLD on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    Gold and red through and through. Rest in peace my man.

  4. By Lawrence Hilliard on Jul 18, 2012 | Reply

    Cleveland played at a time when the 49ers went three consecutive years of being one victory away from the superbowl. The defense was stellar and respected throughout the league. The young Aldon Smith plays with the same intensity and force that characterized Mr. Elam. Cleveland you will ever be remembered by 49er fans that have a historical perspective. May the gracious Lord receive you into His eternal arms. Shalom.

  5. By Brian Kappes on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    the Red N Gold have lost a good one.Mr.Elam was a great 49er. You will be missed. Bless you n your family.

  6. By Debra on Jul 19, 2012 | Reply

    Dear Cleveland,

    My condolences to your extended family including your sisters, brother, children and wife. Your tenacity on the field was complimented by your generous spirit, incredible sense of humor and eternal love of your family.

    Cleve, I will never forget the expression of happiness on your face when in Tampa for the Pro Bowl, you were recognized by Muhammad Ali at Disney World and he complimented you for your ability and dedication to the sport.

    Peace be with you. Cleve, you were an original! Your friend always,


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