Freddie Solomon, a wide receiver for the Dolphins and 49ers who was a key player on two Super Bowl-winning teams, has died at the age of 59.
Solomon was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer nine months ago, and his health took a turn for the worse last week, the Tampa Tribune reports.
As a quarterback at the University of Tampa in the early 1970s Solomon did sensational things with the ball in his hands, rushing for 3,299 yards, which at the time was the all-time NCAA record for a quarterback. Although the NFL didn’t have any place for his style of quarterback in those days, Don Shula was enamored enough with Solomon’s talent that he used a second-round draft pick on him in 1975.
After three seasons in Miami, Solomon was traded to San Francisco, where he became a great fit in Bill Walsh’s offense. His best season was 1981, when he caught 59 passes for 969 yards and eight touchdowns. Following that season the 49ers won the Super Bowl, getting there when Joe Montana hit Dwight Clark in the end zone for “The Catch” to win the NFC Championship Game. Solomon was the first option on that play.
Solomon retired after the 1985 season, and he came to be known in Tampa as much for his good works in the community as he was for his football heroics. He did outreach to young people through his work in community relations with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and he teamed up with Eddie DeBartolo Jr., who owned the 49ers when Solomon played there, to provide an annual Christmas celebration for foster children.
Solomon is survived by his wife of 33 years, Dee Solomon.