Jesse Freitas Sr., a quarterback on the San Francisco 49ers’ inaugural 1946 team and its lone remaining member, died on Monday. He was 99 years old.
According to The Mercury News, Freitas died of cancer.
A four-year player in the All-America Football Conference — one of the NFL’s many competitors before the merger — Freitas operated as a back-up for the Niners before taking over the starting job of the Chicago Rockets for a season.
He later became head football coach, among other things, at San Mateo’s Junipero Serra High School, where he held a 102-49-3 record.
Both the Niners and the high school confirmed Freitas’ death.
The 49ers are saddened to learn of the passing of Jesse Freitas Sr., a QB on our inaugural 1946 team.— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) May 18, 2020
Freitas later served as the head football coach at Junipero Serra HS & was inducted into the San Mateo County Sports HOF in 1995. We send our deepest condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/IeDrDaVQCW
Former Serra legendary football coach Jesse Freitas passed away Monday morning. He was 99. In the 1950s, he joined the Serra staff, coaching baseball, basketball, football and was a classroom teacher. Serra’s football field is named in his honor. Rest in Peace, Coach Freitas. pic.twitter.com/yt7LXld0cX— Serra High School (@SerraSanMateo) May 19, 2020
Per The Mercury News, Freitas was also a U.S. Army veteran who earned a Bronze Star during World War II and commanded an artillery unit at the Battle of the Bulge.
Among the players Freitas coached were Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann and his own son Jesse Jr., who led the nation in passing as a college player at San Diego State.
Freitas is reportedly survived by his partner, Mena DeNegro, two children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Funeral arrangements are still being determined amid the coronavirus pandemic.
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