Football costly to ex-49er, Napa standout Hendrickson

807996.jpg

Football costly to ex-49er, Napa standout Hendrickson

Some Bay Area sports fans remember Steve Hendrickson as a two-sport standout at Napa High in the early 1980s, a player who was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2000 for his all-league exploits in football and wrestling.

RELATED: Click to watch Steve Hendrickson video interview

Others know him as a standout linebacker with the Cal Bears, where he was a member of the 1988 Pac-10 All-Academic team and the MVP of the 1988 Blue Gray All-Star game before graduating with a history degree.

He was also a member of the 1990 Super Bowl champion 49ers, then faced them as a member of the Chargers in the 1995 title game.

But today Hendrickson is a reminder of the game's potential toll. He is one of an increasing number of football players suffering from rapidly declining physical health and short-term memory loss. The effects of seven pro seasons and the amateur days that preceded them have left him appearing much older than his 45 years.

Twenty years ago seems so clear to me, but yesterday seems just ... far away, foggy, he said recently.

Hendrickson was the subject of a stirring profile in the Napa Valley Register, the interview conducted during a visit to his mother and sister, who still live in the wine country, and 19-year-old daughter, Courtney,a field hockey player at Cal.

"He was full-speed all the time, said Les Franco, who coached the Napa football team throughout the 1980s.

Another quality of the 5-foot-10, 250-pounder that stands out to Franco: "His tolerance for pain was off the map."
Hendrickson told the paper that he sustained an estimated 20 concussions during more than a decade in college and pro ball.

I remember one time when I realized Bill Bates (of the Dallas Cowboys) was holding me up, so I asked Hey Billy, whats up? he said. And he said, You got knocked out.
Im holding you up so you dont fall over.

His toughness was once a point of pride. But now it is tinged with regret.

They called my brother Brunswick, said Linda J. Lewis, Hendrickson's older sister. He was like a bowling ball. He had no fear. And he got hurt a lot.

Chip Kelly: Lessons learned from his late father

Chip Kelly: Lessons learned from his late father

SANTA CLARA – San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly made his strongest statement, yet, about where he stands when it comes to seeking jobs elsewhere.

It is a view of commitment he said he learned from his father, E. Paul Kelly, who passed away on Friday at the age of 87. Kelly returned from his dad’s funeral in Portland, Maine, late Tuesday night.

Kelly held his typical Wednesday press briefing. Afterward, he went to the practice field, where numerous 49ers players greeted him with hugs. Just moments earlier, he guaranteed he will never leave a team while there are games remaining on the schedule.

“I will never leave my job for another job while a season is going on,” Kelly said. “I don’t think that’s fair. I didn’t do it when I was in college. I didn’t talk to anybody in the National Football League until after our bowl game was over.

“I will not leave a team with three games to go because I got a bigger, better deal. That’s not the way I’m wired. “

Kelly added, “It’s one thing I did learn from my dad. I have a commitment. They’ve made a commitment to me and I make a commitment to them. I’m not searching around and looking for other jobs while I have a job."

Despite stating multiple times in recent weeks he would not be returning to coach in the college ranks, Kelly’s name continued to surface in connection with the Oregon job. That possibility officially closed on Wednesday morning, as Oregon hired former South Florida coach Willie Taggart for the job.

Kelly’s father passed away on Friday night. Chip Kelly flew to the northeast to join his family, including his mother, who urged him to coach the 49ers’ game on Sunday in Chicago.

After the 49ers’ 26-6 loss to the Chicago Bears, Kelly returned to Maine to attend the services.

"I think you’re just really thankful for the time we had with him," Kelly said. "He lived a vibrant and long life, 87 years. He touched a lot of people in his life and it was evident to us yesterday when we had the funeral how many people came and expressed their condolences and reached out. He had a huge impact in his life. I think, it’s a difficult time. I think we all feel for my mom more than anything else, but it’s an opportunity to celebrate the times that we had with him and he was just a great man.”

Kelly described his dad as a “life-long learner” who had a “thirst for knowledge, an insatiable appetite for information.”

According to his obituary, which ran in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Paul Kelly taught the four Kelly rules to his kids at a young age:

Rule #1 - Have fun!
Rule #2 - Stick together!
Rule #3 - Love Mom!
Rule #4 -&%$*# Dad!

Chip Kelly has demonstrated a wry sense of humor during his first season with the 49ers. But he said he does not compare to his father.

"I don’t have any sense of humor compared to my dad," Kelly said. "I think he was special in that manner. He just had a zest for life. He was one of the happiest people you ever met.

The obituary also stated Paul Kelly was “a truly devoted San Francisco 49ers fan.”

“My dad’s loyal now," Chip Kelly said. "He knows where his son was. He actually got buried in 49ers gear. He did not want to wear a suit in the coffin. He wore a suit for his whole career as a trial lawyer, but he wanted to wear a 49ers sweat suit when he passed away.”

Cosell: It's fascinating that Kelly clearly didn't want Kaepernick to throw

Cosell: It's fascinating that Kelly clearly didn't want Kaepernick to throw

Colin Kaepernick was benched after three quarters on Sunday.

He completed 1-of-5 passes for four yards.

"To me, what's most fascinating about that is what Chip's approach was," Greg Cosell said on KNBR 680 on Monday evening. "Chip (Kelly) clearly did not want him to throw the ball ... it was clear to me that Kaepernick does not throw a wet or a cold ball very well...

"He has small hands so I'm wondering if he just couldn't really throw the ball effectively in this kind of weather.

"Hey, Troy Aikman always said, 'I couldn't throw a wet ball.'"

Kaepernick was sacked five times for -25 total yards.

"Looking at the sacks, there were opportunities for tighter window, but NFL throws -- and first of all, I don't think Kaepernick is that guy under normal circumstances -- and my sense is, he didn't feel comfortable in this weather," Cosell added. "He certainly wasn't gonna cut it loose on those kinds of throws in this weather.

"Maybe Chip knew that, maybe he didn't. But to me, as I said, it's more fascinating that he didn't have him throw the ball at all."

Blaine Gabbert supplanted Kaepernick and completed 4-of-10 passes for 35 yards. He was sacked once.