Jesse Freitas Sr., quarterback on first 49ers team, dies at 99

Jack Baer
·2 min read
General view of the helmets worn by the San Francisco 49ers.
Jesse Freitas Sr. played for the Niners before they were even part of the NFL. (Getty Images)

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.

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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