Joe Starkey to stop calling 49ers games

I just heard on KNBR that Joe Starkey is going to retire at the end of the year as the play-by-play announcer for the San Francisco 49ers.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I kind of felt sorry for the guy when he suffered that case of laryngitis-like symptoms during the Buffalo game, forcing him to leave his chair in the first quarter and hand off announcing duties to Joe Fonzi. Then I thought it was a little weird during the beginning of the Jets game Starkey sounded fine but it was announced by Fonzi that he would be the lead broadcaster for the second week in a row.

Now that we know Starkey is retiring because he chose to stay with the California Bears instead of continuing to call both Cal and Niner games, what will his legacy be? He was the lead guy for on 49ers broadcasts for 20 years, and for the most part he did a decent job. He wasn’t a full-fledged homer; he rooted for the team but could get pretty disparaging in his criticism of the 49ers during losses, which he has called quite a few of in recent years. Besides “The Play,” he’s best known for saying, “What a bonanza,” after great plays (kind of an odd catchphrase) and yelling “OWENS! OWENS! OWENS! OWENS!”

Who’s going to replace Starkey? I can’t find out anything in my first ten minutes of searching; nothing’s on the 49ers website or on Matt Maiocco’s blog. Will the 49ers go cheap and toss Fonzi in there? Ted Robinson could be an option. Maybe the Niners will stick it to the Raiders and offer more money to Greg Papa, who knows? All I know is that while Starkey wasn’t in the same league as Lon Simmons or Bill King, he still had a pretty decent career, and got to see a lot of amazing football (well, the first half of his Niners tenure, anyway).

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