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Longtime San Francisco 49ers Player Dead At 83

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Mere days before the San Francisco 49ers are due to have their toughest game of the year, the franchise has lost one of its all-time greats.

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On Friday, the team announced the passing of former linebacker and special teams captain Ed Beard. He was 83 years old.

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"The San Francisco 49ers are mourning the passing of Ed Beard who played 8 seasons with the team from 1965-1972. Our deepest condolences to his wife Bobbie, his family, and friends," the team said in a statement. 

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Beard was a 14th round pick in the 1964 NFL Draft but went on to become the first special teams captain in NFL history. He appeared in 97 games for the 49ers between 1965 and 1972 and was a part of the first 49ers teams to win a playoff game as members of the NFL. 

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Injuries forced Beard to retire after the 1972 season but he quickly found a niche in coaching. He spent the next five years as the 49ers' linebackers coach before being hired by the New Orleans Saints in 1979. 

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After one year coaching linebackers, Beard was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1980. He lost his job after one year but was later hired by the Detroit Lions as defensive coordinator in 1983, coaching them to the No. 2 scoring defense for the only time in the 16-game era. Our hearts go out to Beard's family and loved ones.