Charlie Krueger, San Francisco 49ers and NFL Legend, Dead at 84

by Joe Rutland

Charlie Krueger, who played all 15 seasons for the San Francisco 49ers, died on Friday of kidney and heart faliure. He was 84.

Krueger is one of 12 players who have their jerseys retired by the San Francisco 49ers. He wore No. 70 as he played defensive tackle between 1959-73 for the National Football League team. Krueger played on teams that featured quarterback John Brodie and wide receiver Gene Washington, among others.

He attended Texas A&M University, where he played under legendary head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Krueger was drafted in 1958 by the 49ers as the eighth overall pick.

Krueger, Brodie, and wide receiver Dwight Clark are the only 49ers players who have their numbers retired yet aren’t in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Charlie Krueger Won Lawsuit Against 49ers Over Injury

During his playing days, Krueger suffered a severe knee injury that left him permanently crippled. What specifically happened? Krueger was never told that his ACL was removed during a surgery in 1963.

He went to court in 1987 and won a lawsuit against the team over having the severity of his injury not fully revealed to him. Krueger received $66,000 in special damages and $2.3 million in general damages from the San Francisco 49ers.

So, how tough was Krueger? He happened to be one of the last linemen in the NFL to wear single-bar facemasks. His style of play on the defensive side of the ball happened to be featured by “Sports Illustrated” in 1973 in an article called “The Last of the Old Leather.”

“In 1958 I came into the NFL and it was purely a game,” Krueger said in the “Sports Illustrated” story. “Fifteen years later, it is strictly a marketing enterprise. I’m a dinosaur who’s survived the Ice Age only to discover I’m caught between hard rock and hot clothes.”

H/T: Pro Football Talk, San Francisco Chronicle