SAN FRANCISCO — Cedrick Hardman, the fleet, fearsome pillar of the San Francisco 49ers’ “Gold Rush’’ defense, died Friday, the team said. He was 70.
The team did not give a cause of death or reveal where he died.
An All-Pro selection in 1971 and 1975 and Pro Bowl player in 1972 and 1976, Mr. Hardman joined Cleveland Elam, Tommy Hart, and Jimmy Webb to form the “Gold Rush’’ defensive front.
He is considered the team’s all-time leader in sacking the quarterback, the San Francisco Chronicle said. He played for the team from 1970 to 1979, a period before sacks were an official statistic. ‘‘We are truly saddened by the loss of one of the all-time great 49ers, Cedrick Hardman,’’ the team said in a statement.
‘‘During his 10-year career in red and gold, he anchored the vaunted ‘‘Gold Rush’’ defensive line with a nonstop motor that put fear in the minds of opposing quarterbacks.’’
After leaving the 49ers, Mr. Hardman signed with the Oakland Raiders, where he appeared in 32 games over two seasons (1980-81) and was a member of the Super Bowl-winning team in the 1980 season.
Mr. Hardman was a member of the then-North Texas State team but did not start until his senior year. He made up for lost time with a remarkable 38 sacks in 10 games that year, including 11 sacks against Tulsa.
“I came from the back of the pack at North Texas State,” Mr. Hardman told the Chronicle in 2003. “I only started two or three games my junior year, but I played next to (North Texas teammate) Mean Joe Greene and got my appetite whetted for getting to the quarterback.”