49ers player dies after collapsing
Kevin Lynch, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Denver -- First-year 49ers lineman Thomas Herrion is dead after collapsing in the locker room after Saturday night's game against the Broncos at INVESCO Field.
After walking off the field at the end of the game in seemingly good condition, he collapsed in the locker room a little before 11 p.m. local time (10 p.m. PDT). Medical personnel treated him immediately, pumping his chest with their hands as he was removed on a gurney. He was driven away in an ambulance.
At about 1:15 a.m. local time (12:15 PDT), reporters covering the 49ers who were waiting at the stadium for news were informed by the team that Herrion had died. No cause of death was given.
Head coach Mike Nolan informed Herrion's teammates at the airport, where they were preparing to depart for San Francisco.
The 49ers released this statement:
"Thomas Herrion, a first-year guard on the 49ers, collapsed in the locker room following the game. He was immediately treated by team physicians, the medical staff and paramedics. He was then transported to St. Anthony's Central. We received word later that he passed away. This is a colossal tragedy for the 49ers and the entire NFL community. We still do not know all of the details. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Herrion family."
Herrion had played in the game's final drive, a 14-play, 91-yard drive that ended with the 49ers' final touchdown, a 23-yard run by Cody Pickett. Television footage showed Herrion striding off the field afterward, looking fine. His helmet was cocked back on his head, his face giving no sign of distress.
Herrion, 23, was 6-foot-3, 315 pounds. He went to college at Kilgore Junior College in Texas, his home state, and then attended Utah. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by Dallas in May 2004. He joined the 49ers' practice squad in December and has been with the team since. He signed a one- year contract in January.
Reports on Herrion from his time at Utah give the picture of a gregarious teammate, one who was persuaded to attend the school by the family atmosphere fostered by the coaches' wives.
An article in the Deseret Morning News in August 2003 said Herrion became a 3.2-GPA student at Utah, after not qualifying academically for the NCAA out of high school.
Herrion told that paper that beyond hopes for an NFL career, he wanted "to get into corrections, work on my Master's and get my teaching degree and go back to my high school and just work with kids."