Sad News: just now San Francisco 49ers confirm their great legend dead at age of 67 years…………….

former tight end with the 49ers In a plane disaster, Russ Francis, 70, passes away.

Russ Francis, a vibrant tight end in the Pro Bowl who played six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and was a member of their 1984 Super Bowl squad, passed away on Sunday at the age of 70 in a Lake Placid, New York, plane crash.

The 49ers verified Francis’ passing, which the Lake Placid News had originally reported. According to reports, Francis and Richard McSpadden, a former flight leader and commander of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team, perished in a jet crash at Lake Placid Airport’s end of a runway.

The 16th overall pick in 1975 by the Patriots, Francis made three straight Pro Bowls with New England and joined the 49ers in 1982 after a one-year retirement from the NFL. He had 186 receptions for 2,105 yards and 12 touchdowns while making 65 starts for the 49ers, who waived him during the 1987 season. Francis had five catches for 60 yards in the 49ers’ 38-16 win over the Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium after the 1984 season.

Francis, a 6-foot-6 and 240 pounder with speed, was termed the “All-World” tight end early in his career by broadcaster Howard Cosell. Pro Bowl offensive lineman Randy Cross, a teammate of Francis’ throughout his 49ers’ tenure, called him a “world-class athlete” who was a prototype for a modern-day tight end.

He could do anything,” Cross said in a phone interview Monday. “He was one of the few big, powerful athletic types that I knew that could swim like a fish. He was unbelievable.”

Francis, who had his pilot’s license during his NFL career, recently became the co-owner of Lake Placid Airways, which provides charter and scenic flights.

His passion for flying was among his many interests, which created a one-of-a kind bio. After his 13-year career, which ended in 1988 with the Patriots, Francis, an avid swimmer and skydiver, was a professional wrestler, radio host, television anchor and aspiring politician. In 2000, Francis, who grew up in Washington, Hawaii and Oregon, ran for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district, losing to a longtime Democratic incumbent.

After Francis was involved in a motorcycle accident in January 1979, New England head coach Ron Erhardt was asked if he’d ban his players from riding motorcycles.

“If you don’t let a guy like Russ ride motorcycles,” Erhardt said to Sports Illustrated, “he’s just going to jump out of parachutes or something even worse.”

Francis’ pre-NFL years were also unique. He the national high school record in the javelin in 1971, with a throw of 259 feet and 9 inches, a mark that stood for 17 years. He was selected by the Royals as a pitcher in the 1974 MLB draft and became a first-round NFL draft pick a year later despite playing just 14 games at Oregon and leaving the school before his senior season. Francis, who couldn’t be drafted in the NFL with any remaining college eligibility, enrolled at Oregon State in January 1975 to become draft-eligible.

His departure from Oregon was followed by his exit from the NFL after the 1980 season.

Francis, who wrestled with playing a violent sport, was close with Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley, his roommate who was paralyzed due to a hit from Raiders safety Jack Tatum during a preseason game in 1978.

Shortly before he announced his retirement on July 22, 1978, Francis said, via The New York Times: “I have problems with football. Philosophically, I mean. Why are people out there hurting each other? Why do human beings want to run into each other at full speed?”

Francis was an ABC broadcaster in 1981 and he was lured out of retirement by 49ers head coach Bill Walsh, who was interviewed by Francis at that season’s Pro Bowl. The Patriots traded Francis and a second-round pick to the 49ers for four draft picks.

“I think Bill knew what he was getting,” Cross said. “I’m not sure he always had a complete handle on what was going on.”

Cross said Francis earned the nickname “Flipper,” which was a nod to his penchant for working out in a pool at Sierra College in Rocklin instead of participating in training-camp practices. And he recalled a camp practice in the mid-1980s when Francis, sitting out with an injury, buzzed the field in his P-51 Mustang.

“I’m sure he got a fine from the FAA and everything else,” Cross said. “But they had him confused with somebody who cared what they thought. It was something. It was pure Russ.”

Francis often said he played football to fund his flying habit, a joke that that was an acknowledgement of the obvious: He wasn’t wired like a typical NFL player.

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