It's early July right now, so Pro Football Focus, the popular football analytics site, decided to go team-by-team and name players who it felt had a good chance of one day being immortalized in Canton, Ohio. The listing was broken down into three categories of players: those who would be in if they retired today, those who are on pace should they keep performing at an elite level, and those who have garnered some discussion as a potential inductee but do not necessarily deserve a spot right now.

"The players included below are those who have spent at least five years in the NFL and have the grades and numbers that back up an eventual spot in Canton," writes Ben Linsey, who constructed the list.

Note: The title of the PFF article, "Future PFF Hall of Famers by team heading into 2019," makes it sound like the players listed are potential inductees into a PFF-specific Hall of Fame, as does the official category names, like "On pace for PFF Hall of Fame." The sentence above, however, indicates that Linsey means the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This article is assuming that to be the case.

Just two San Francisco 49ers players made Linsey's list — tackle Joe Staley and cornerback Richard Sherman. Both fall into the second category of players who are on pace should they keep performing at an elite level.

Linsey wrote the following about Staley:

"The beginning of his career was rather mundane: Staley graded between 68.6 and 78.1 in each of his first five seasons. Since 2012, though, Staley has graded at 80.0 or higher in seven consecutive seasons with four years grading above 89.0. That recent stretch places him third in PFF WAR among tackles since 2006 and fourth in overall grade. Another year or two of those types of performances should polish off a Hall of Fame-worthy career for Staley."

One player who likely agrees with Linsey's analysis is second-year tackle and Staley's teammate and friend, Mike McGlinchey. He indicated via a tweet in April that Staley indeed deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame by including the #HOF hashtag in response to another PFF article.


The 49ers signed Staley to a two-year extension in June, keeping the veteran tackle with the team through the 2021 season. He is entering his 13th NFL season and is a six-time Pro Bowl selection.

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Linsey wrote the following about Sherman:

"Sherman's Hall of Fame credentials include being third in PFF WAR among cornerbacks since 2006 despite his career starting in 2011, having the second-highest coverage grade among qualifying cornerbacks since 2006, allowing the lowest completion rate allowed of any cornerback with 200 or more targets (48.6 percent) and allowing the lowest passer rating allowed in the same group (54.6)."

Sherman, a long-time Seattle Seahawk, signed with the 49ers last offseason. He started 14 games last year despite playing through pain most of the season. Sherman was coming off a ruptured Achilles, was bothered by the sutures in place as part of his rehab, and dealt with a calf injury. Even hobbled, he was still the 49ers' best and most consistent defensive back.

Defensive backs coach Joe Woods explained in May that, while reviewing film, he could see Sherman limping and dragging his leg while in coverage, but the cornerback was still holding his own.

"He feels better now because he is healthier," Woods added. "He knew last year he wasn't, and you can obviously see that on tape. I feel like he'll be more the Richard Sherman that you guys are used to seeing this season."

Sherman is entering his ninth NFL season and is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time first-team All-Pro. While Sherman spent the majority of his pro career with the division-rival Seahawks, players enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame representing each NFL team for which they played.

H/t to Peter Panacy of Niner Noise for the find.