Cleveland Elam, member of famed 49ers' front four, passes away

July 18, 2012, 10:41 pm
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Cleveland Elam, a member of the 49ers' "Gold Rush" front-four of the 1970s, passed away last week, the organization announced Tuesday. He was 60.Elam, a native of Memphis, Tenn., died on July 12. No cause of death was reported.Elam was a fourth-round draft pick of the 49ers in 1975 out of Tennessee State.Before sack totals were an official NFL statistic, the 49ers led the league in sacks in 1976. Elam, Cedrick Hardman, Tommy Hart and Jimmy Webb formed the "Gold Rush," which recorded 61 sacks in 14 games.Elam led the 49ers with 17.5 sacks in 1977. He was twice voted to the NFC Pro Bowl team (1976 and '77) as a defensive end. He was a first-team All-Pro selection in 1977.After four seasons with the 49ers, Elam's career ended in 1979 due to injuries while playing for the Detroit Lions. Last season, Elam was honored during the 49ers' alumni weekend.He is survived by his wife, Blanche, and their four children. A memorial service will be held at Gethsemane Baptist Church in Salisbury, N.C., on July 21 at noon.

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