Craig Puki, who started at linebacker for the 1981 San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl-winning team that launched a dynasty, has died.
He was 66.
The 49ers announced Puki’s passing on Twitter.
“The 49ers mourn the passing of former LB Craig Puki. Our thoughts are with his friends and family,” the team’s statement read.
The 49ers mourn the passing of former LB Craig Puki.
Our thoughts are with his friends and family ❤️ pic.twitter.com/YbMQ7EOjAx
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) May 19, 2023
A native of South Dakota, Puki won all-SEC honors with the Tennessee Volunteers before being drafted in the third round (No. 77 overall) by the 49ers in 1980. He played 16 games his rookie season, then started six games in 1981. San Francisco capped that season with a 26-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI, the first title in team history. Puki had two solo tackles in that game.
The 49ers traded Puki to the Los Angeles Rams after that Super Bowl championship, and he would play seven games with them before retiring after the 1982 season.
NFL fans shared memories of Puki and their condolences on Twitter.
The 49ers announced the passing of former LB Craig Puki, 66. He was one of those who witnessed The Catch on Jan. 10, 1982 …https://t.co/7bhMvnuVT1
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) May 19, 2023
Dan Bunz, Craig Puki.. the LB names from that era in 49er football were very on brand to the blue collar nature of the position back then. RIP
— Yato Yoshida (@goyato) May 19, 2023
RIP. Will always remember his name from the Goal-Line Stand highlight clip.
— NJ 🟧 (@qnjastros) May 19, 2023
R.I.P., my Condolences to His Family, may He R.I.P. 🙏🙏🙏💚💚💚
— Andrew 🇲🇽 (@goof_yo) May 19, 2023
Damn RIP to a legend 🙏🙏
— Austin Seay (@FirstHokage456) May 19, 2023
— Shen (@WMids_Paul) May 19, 2023