The San Francisco 49ers lost one of the team’s first stars, wide receiver R.C. Owens, who died at the age of 77 on Sunday. Ask any fan, of any sport who invented the alley-oop play and they will likely name a basketball player. However, the term and play was coined by the 49ers in 1957 to describe a high arcing pass from quarterback Y.A. Tittle to wide receiver R.C. Owens.
Owens, who was referred to as “Opp”, played eight seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver and spent five seasons with the 49ers (1957-1961). He had 176 receptions for 2,926 yards and 20 touchdowns while he was with San Francisco. Owens was the team’s first 1,000 yard receiver and he was inducted into the 49ers’ Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. Owens was a supporter of the 49ers Foundation, served as a community ambassador and alumni advisor for the team.
Here is a statement from 49ers owner and chairman John York on the passing of Owens:
The 49ers family has suffered a great loss with the passing of R.C. Owens. Long after his days as a player were over, his devotion to the organization remained strong. R.C. was an ever-present supporter of the 49ers Foundation and did great works with the community at large. The San Francisco 49ers and our Faithful fans will forever be grateful for his contributions, and he will be sincerely missed.
Here is an interview from 2010 with R.C. Owens talking about his playing days with the 49ers and the alley-oop play: