Nicholas Edward "Nick" Cameron (born April 2, 1976) is a former American football player who was the starting quarterback for the Western Football Association's San Francisco 49ers from when he was drafted by them with the first overall pick in the 1998 Pro Football Draft until he retired following the 2013 season. He spent four years as the starting quarterback at Washington State University, where he won the 1997 Bosch Trophy, the school's first and to date only. Having won four Western Cup championships, three Championship MVP awards, five WFA MVP awards and as the active leader in career victories at his retirement, Cameron is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks of all time, and by far the best to play in the WFA.
Nicholas Edward Cameron was born in Bellingham, Washington, on April 2, 1976 to Ed (1946-) and Martha Cameron (1950-). Cameron was the eldest of four brothers. His father had played collegiate football at Western Washington University in Bellingham and as the assistant offensive coordinator for WWU, and later offensive coordinator and head coach, throughout his life. Ed Cameron retired from WWU in 2005 after having spent seventeen years as the Vikings' head coach.
Cameron started playing football in elementary school and attended Sehome Senior High School, where he was a three-year starter from the moment he started high school in 10th grade. The Mariners won Washington 3A state championships in 1992 and 1993, his junior and senior seasons, and Cameron was named the Sports Illustrated and Tacoma Tribune Player of the Year for Washington state both years, and was named as the Mr. Football for Washington and the WIAA Senior of the Year in any sport as a senior. He graduated from Sehome in June of 1994 as one of the most decorated quarterbacks in state history, owning several high school passing records.
Having played a prolific career in Washington, Cameron was advised by his father to stay in the Pacific Northwest to improve his local exposure. Due to the struggles of the University of Washington football program in the early 1990s, Cameron narrowed his choices down to Pacifica, Oregon or Washington State prior to his senior season. While Cameron was intrigued with the clearly improving Pacifica program, he eventually determined that playing in Sahalee would place him too close to his home and would prevent him from "leaving Bellingham properly." Despite a heavy push by Oregon, which at the time of his recruitment was coming off of a third consecutive PCC championship, Cameron opted to stay in-state at WSU and went to Coeur d'Alene for fall camp in the summer of 1994.
While head coach John Forrest had initially planned to redshirt Cameron, he promoted him to backup at the end of fall camp and then was forced to send him into action after the season-ending injury to starting quarterback Josh Eckhard in the middle of the 1994 season. Cameron wound up starting the final five games of the regular season, winning all but the Oregon game, and lost his start against the heavily favored No. 3 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Silver Bowl.
Cameron was the clear starter in 1995 and led the Cougars to a surprise second-place finish in the Northwest Division behind Pacifica. The 8-4 Cougars, however, did not qualify for the Elite Series, and instead played in the Emerald Bowl against the Indiana Hoosiers. Cameron set a WSU bowl record with five passing touchdowns and no interceptions, and completed 18 straight passes to emerge as a potential Bosch candidate the next year.
In 1996, Cameron led the Cougars to their first-ever PCC championship and an 11-1 record, losing only to USC in the regular season but avenging their loss in the PCC championship game. On the season, he set Cougar regular season records with 3,123 passing yards and 25 touchdown passes. His TD-INT ratio of 25-5 is still the best in Cougar history. WSU dominated Iowa in their first-ever Rose Bowl appearance, winning 43-17 behind Cameron's four passing touchdowns, and the Cougars ended the season No. 3. Cameron placed third in Bosch voting behind clear winner Ricky Evans and runner-up Aarron Goodfellow.
Many suspected that Cameron would declare for the 1997 Draft after his dominant junior season
Professional Career: 1998-Present
Breakthrough Success and Repeat Championships: 2000 and 2001
After three straight first-game playoff losses and with considerable cap space, the 49ers retooled much of their defense prior to the 2005 regular season, bringing in new defensive coordinator Greg Angio along with free agent defenders such as linebacker James Brock (Dolphins, NFL), defensive end Henry Waitkins (Totems) and cornerback Oliver McKenna (Cowboys, AFL)
2012 and 2013
After his MVP season, Nick Cameron restructured his contract to allow the 49ers to sign more weapons on offense and defense. Despite being favored to return to the Western Cup, Cameron struggled with an ankle injury suffered during training camp and exacerbated in the opener against the Rattlers. He missed four games - the most in a single season in his career - and threw 20 interceptions, his most in one season.
Records and Achievements
Western Football Association Awards
- Western Football Association Most Valuable Player Award: 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2011
- Western Cup Championship Most Valuable Player: 2001, 2005, 2008
- Western Cup Champion: 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008
- North Division Regular Season Champion: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011
- North Division Playoff Champion: 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2011
- Playoff Appearances: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
- Most regular season passing touchdowns all-time: 43 (2005)
- Most regular season passing yards all-time: 4,566
- Most regular season completions: __
- Regular season completion percentage all-time: 63.4% (2nd)
- Most playoff passing touchdowns all time: 14 (2008)