Sometimes the best jerseys aren’t always those worn by the biggest names.
San Francisco 49ers super collector Martin Jacobs has spent a good chunk of his life tracking down game-worn gear and he’s just acquired a rare jersey once worn a man who played a role in one of the weirdest plays in football history.
If you’ve watched the Niners play, you may have seen them wear throwbacks once in a while but Jacobs landed the real deal with his latest acquisition, which came via trade with another avid collector.
“It’s unique, because the 49ers only wore the shadow style numbers on their home jerseys in 1955, making it a rarity,” he told us.
The jersey has a few team repairs and is made by Wilson Sporting Goods. It would be a pretty cool piece by itself but the player who wore it makes it extra special.
Number 47 was Dickey Moegle, the team’s first round pick in 1955. Now 84 and living in Texas, Moegle entered the pro ranks at age 20 and played on both sides of the ball—running back on offense and defensive back on defense. He recorded six interceptions in that first year with San Francisco. But it’s what happened to him during his Rice University days that has kept his name on football fans’ minds for nearly 65 years.
In the 1954 Cotton Bowl against Alabama, Rice was clinging to a 7-6 lead and backed up at their own five-yard-line when Moegle broke loose on a sweep. He raced down the sideline in front of Alabama’s bench when Alabama’s Tommy Lewis, without putting on his helmet, jumped off the bench and tackled him, stunning the big crowd.
Seeing what happened, referee Cliff Shaw Rice a touchdown and the Owls went on to win the game 28–6.
Moegle finished with 265 rushing yards, a Cotton Bowl Classic record which lasted 54 years. The “bench tackle touchdown” was one of three he scored on the day. Moegle and Lewis both later appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show to talk about the play.
Named a consensus All-American, Moegle was snared by the Niners with the tenth overall pick. His best pro season was in 1957 when he posted eight interceptions. He was traded to Pittsburgh in 1960 in exchange for a first-round draft choice, #6 overall, Jimmy Johnson, who eventually became a perennial All-Pro and future Hall of Famer. Moegle finished his career with the upstart Dallas Cowboys in 1961.
The unique 49ers jersey he donned in ’55 is now part of Jacobs’ extensive collection of football history—a piece he’s happy to have tackled all by himself.