Days after Isaiah Winstead, a receiver from East Carolina University, went undrafted, his patience and persistence were rewarded by the 49ers. Jan 29, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; A general view of San Francisco 49ers helmet on the bench before game against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

[San Francisco 49ers]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.