Pro Football Hall of Famer Fred Dean died late Wednesday night. He was 68.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Fred Dean,” Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker said in a statement. “He exemplified many of the values learned from this great game — commitment, integrity, courage — over the course of his life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Fred’s wife, Pam, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations.”
After a standout collegiate career at linebacker for Louisiana Tech, Dean entered the NFL as a second-round pick of the then-San Diego Chargers in 1975. He was moved to defensive end right away and quickly became one of the league’s best edge rushers, landing his first Pro Bowl berth in 1979 and All-Pro and Pro Bowl spots in 1980.
Dean played for the Chargers until 1981, when he joined the San Francisco 49ers via trade for a second-round draft pick. Known for his combination of quickness and power, Dean made an instant impact for the Niners, racking up 12 sacks (unofficially, as sacks didn’t become an official stat until 1982) in 11 games and earning an All-Pro nod as the Niners won Super Bowl XVI.
“The 49ers family is heartbroken to learn of the passing of one of the game’s all-time greats, Fred Dean,” the 49ers said in a statement. “Fred not only impacted countless opposing quarterbacks throughout his career, but also the future of the game of football as one of the NFL’s first true pass rushing specialists.