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Jesse Freitas Sr. (1921–2020), quarterback for San Francisco 49ers’ first team

by Linnea Crowther

Jesse Freitas, Sr. was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers’ inaugural team in 1946.

A pro and a coach

After playing football for Santa Clara University, Freitas participated in the 1944 NFL. But he ended up deferring his pro football career to serve in the U.S. Army in World War II, earning a Bronze Star and commanding an artillery unit at the Battle of the Bulge. When Freitas returned to the U.S., he signed with the 49ers as part of their first team, when they were part of NFL rival league the All-America Football Conference. He played quarterback for the 49ers for two seasons before moving on to play a season each with the Chicago Rockets and the Buffalo Bills.

After his pro career ended, Freitas became a coach at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California. His students included Lynn Swann, who would go on to a Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Freitas’ son, Jesse Freitas, Jr. (1951 – 2015), played two seasons with the San Diego Chargers.

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What people said about him

Full obituary: The Mercury-News

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