Len Eshmont was a legend on the East Coast before the San Francisco 49ers were even formed. He
was raised in the coal regions of Central Pennsylvania and played high school football at Mt. Carmel
Township in eastern Pennsylvania, just a few miles from his home in Atlas.
At Mt. Carmel, Eshmont set several prep rushing records and was chosen All-State in 1936, his senior year of high school. His outstanding high school play caught the eye of Jim Crowley, one of Notre Dame's Four Horsemen. Crowley, then a recruiter for Fordham University, persuaded Eshmont to play college ball in New York with the Fordham Rams. At that time Fordham was one of the most powerful teams on the East Coast.
Eshmont entered Fordham in 1936 and quickly gained recognition as the "Fordham Flash." In his senior year, 1940, he was named to the All-America Team. Eshmont signed with the New York Giants where he played for one year before joining the armed forces.
In 1942 he was commissioned in the U.S. Navy and served as a physical education instructor at the Naval pre-flight schools around the country, including St. Mary's Pre-Flight. For three years Eshmont starred with the Navy's football teams and combined with Frankie Albert in 1943 to turn St. Mary's Pre-Flight into a local powerhouse. Eshmont was named to the All-Service football teams in 1942, 1943 and 1944, the only person to be named to the all-star team for three consecutive years.
After leaving the Navy, Eshmont decided to stay in the Bay Area and joined the original San Francisco 49er team of 1946 along with his teammate from St. Marys Pre-Flight, Frankie Albert. That year he combined with Albert, Norm Standlee and John Stryzkalski to give the 49ers one of the best running attacks in the AAFC.
Eshmont retired in 1949 as San Francisco prepared to enter the NFL. In his four years with the 49ers, he gained 1,181 yards on 232 carries, an average of five yards per carry.
In 1950 he began a successful coaching career by joining former 49er assistant coach Eddie Erdelatz at the U.S. Naval Academy as a backfield coach. In 1956 he left to coach at the University of Virginia. A year later, in May of 1957, he died of infectious hepatitis in Virginia. He was 39.