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McKittrick Remembered as Unsung Hero
Coaching colleagues and former players said goodbye yesterday to Bobb McKittrick, the 49ers' longtime offensive line coach. They reminisced about the team's glory days, joked about McKittrick's stubbornness and aversion to cold-weather clothing, and eulogized him as the unsung hero behind the 49ers' dynasty.
``Bobb was the foundation for Bill Walsh and Steve Mariucci and myself,'' said George Seifert, now the Carolina coach, referring to the head coaches who preceded and followed him in San Francisco. Mariucci called McKittrick a ``role model'' for players and coaches, and Walsh remembered him as ``a marvelous teacher, planner and organizer.''
McKittrick died at 64 last Wednesday following a 14-month bout with cancer.
The crowd attending the service at St. Pius Catholic Church in Redwood City was filled with big- name coaches and players, including Mike Holmgren and Dennis Green, former 49ers offensive assistants who have gone on to become successful NFL head coaches, and Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana.
The 49ers' current coaching staff was there, as were former assistant coaches Sherman Lewis (now with Green in Minnesota), Howard Mudd (now in Indianapolis) and Paul Hackett (head coach at USC).
Former players Merton Hanks, Eric Wright, Harris Barton, Jesse Sapolu, Russ Francis, Roger Craig, Guy McIntyre, Ray Wersching, Steve Wallace and Bill Ring attended, along with many current 49ers players.
Dan Audick and John Choma, offensive linemen who had brief careers but played significant roles in the 49ers' first Super Bowl drive, came to pay respects. Cal coach Tom Holmoe, a former 49ers player and assistant coach, also was among the mourners.
Candy DeBartolo, wife of former owner Eddie DeBartolo, flew in from their new home in Tampa, Fla., with daughters Lisa and Nicole, who worked for the organization until recently. Eddie DeBartolo, a witness in a Louisiana gambling trial, sent a message in which he called McKittrick ``a giant among his peers (and) respected and revered more than anyone I know.''
Barton, recalling his first meeting with McKittrick before the 1987 draft, said other coaches who visited him were interested in workouts or 40-yard sprint times, but all McKittrick wanted to talk about was family. In their last conversation, Barton said, McKittrick mentioned Walter Payton, the great running back who died of cancer last year, and said, ``I'm going to start devising running plays to see if I can get Heaven's running game going.''
Walsh called McKittrick ``a unique, special human being,''
saying: ``He became the greatest coach in his area of specialty in
our era . . . but it was his spirit that was amazing -- unrelenting
determination, mental stamina.''