The last living member of the original San Francisco 49ers, Ken Casanega ’42, died October 10, 2021. A football legend, educator, and grandfather to many, Ken was always an active and caring man. At 97, he was still golfing with his wife of 77 years, Helen. At 98, Casanega was the 49ers’ honorary game captain and handled the coin toss for the second time in three seasons. During his time as a 49er, Ken was a do-it-all threat in 1946 playing both quarterback and halfback. He cut his NFL career short to serve in World War II and prioritize his marriage. He served on aircraft carriers, flying torpedo bombers on missions in the Philippines and Japan and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. When he returned, the four years away from home changed his career plans. He didn’t want to leave Helen during the 49ers’ long road trips so he became a math teacher, and found great success in education. Named Castlemont-Oakland’s Athlete of the Decade for the 1930s and a member of Santa Clara University’s Hall of Fame, he is survived by Helen and extended family.

01 Dec 2021