Saint Joe Alumni Spotlight-Jim Sniadecki of the 49ers


Mia Sniadecki, Staff Writer

Recently I interviewed Saint Joe High School alum Jim Sniadecki who went on from Saint Joe to play football for the NFL. Jim went to Saint Joseph High School starting in the year 1961 and graduated in the year 1965. He went on to play for Indiana University and was drafted as a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers in 1969.

Jim called from his home in San Francisco and talked very fondly about his time at Saint Joe. Jim told me, “The biggest thing I remember was football”. He says that the team had some great ball players and remembers biking to the school for two practices everyday. Jim also recalls how difficult it was for him to come back home and study after such long days of football, but says he is grateful he did. One of his most treasured memories from his time at Saint Joe was when his team won the state championship. He still remembers how happy they all felt that day.

Following his graduation from Saint Joe, Jim received a scholarship to play football for a couple universities. Jim remembers looking at both Notre Dame and Indiana University and thinking that he would not get much of a chance to play with all the amazing players at Notre Dame. Indiana University, on their part, held a notoriously bad record. He remembers that ultimately he was swayed to join Indiana University, despite their less than appealing record, after hearing about IU’s new coach John Pont. A man Jim remembers as being young and having a vision for where he’d like to take the team. The vision Pont had dreamt of eventually would come true and in a surprise twist to the 1968 season Indiana University won the Big 10 and made it to the Rose Bowl, which at the time was one of the biggest (if not the biggest) game around. Indiana fell to the University of Southern California, but Jim looks back on the match in the light of good experience it brought him. “We were definitely the underdogs and played a good game. We are still the only team from Indiana University to get there”. He says that before that match he never thought he would be good enough to go pro. Of course, that all changed when pro scouts who had watched the game started sending him letters.

In 1969, Jim was drafted to the San Francisco 49ers. “Being just a kid then and moving all the way to California with no family, it got pretty lonely at first. Later on, as I started playing and working with the team, I became very excited because I realized this is the dream for any footballer”. Jim made the most of his time as middle linebacker for the 49ers, constantly pushing himself to the limit. He played nonstop for years until game in Buffalo caused him to suffer a season ending injury of a broken ankle. While he was off, he worked harder than he ever had before and came back to the game starting at middle linebacker once again in the very next season. After 5 years playing for the 49ers, a new opportunity arose with the formation of the World Football League, a short-lived rival to the NFL. Jim’s  linebacker coach was recruited to the position of head coach of the Hawaiians team. Jim followed his coach to Hawaii where he played for the Hawaiians team in Honolulu until the disbandment of the league in 1975.

After retiring from football, Jim went on to own an upscale restaurant in San Francisco for 10 years before moving on to medical sales. He says his work with the 49ers not only changed his life when he moved across the country, but after his retirement from football he was given many opportunities in business because of it. He is now happily retired and living on the delta in San Francisco. He says his main hobby now is golf, which he picked up during his years of football as a result of celebrities inviting him out to tournaments. He still attends all the 49ers games and says he dearly misses it during the COVID pandemic. Today, he thinks his biggest accomplishment is simply being a good person throughout his life.

Jim’s advice for Saint Joe students today is to trust God, listen to your parents, and to try to do good as best you can and much as you can. He ended the interview with one last piece of advice, “No matter what, move forward”.