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Former 49ers D-lineman Fred Dean passes away after battle with COVID-19

Oct 14, 2020 at 10:46 PM--

NFL great Fred Dean, who played along the San Francisco 49ers defensive line for five seasons between 1981 and 1985, has passed away after battling COVID-19.

Dean helped the 49ers to win two Super Bowls (XVI, XIX), was a four-time Pro Bowl selection (1979–1981, 1983), and two-time first-team All-Pro (1980, 1981). He was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year for the 1981 season, was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008, and is a member of the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame.

The San Diego Chargers made Dean a second-round draft pick out of Louisiana Tech in 1975. He was traded to San Francisco in 1981.

Dean finished his career with 93 sacks in 141 games and one interception. He was born on February 24, 1952, in Arcadia, Louisiana, and passed at the age of 68.

Statement from the San Francisco 49ers organization:

"The 49ers family is heartbroken to learn of the passing of one of the game's all-time greats, Fred Dean. 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. Although sacks did not become an official NFL statistic until Fred's eighth season in the league, his 93.5 sacks would rank among the top 50 all-time to this day.

"From the minute he joined the 49ers, Fred immediately helped to change the team's fortunes. In just his first game with the team, he put in an all-time performance against the Dallas Cowboys that not only helped defeat a nemesis but propelled the 49ers to our first Super Bowl Championship later that year.

"As the 49ers marched through the NFL, often having opponents on the ropes early in games, Fred was referred to by his teammates as 'The Closer' for his ability to deliver the knockout blow to opposing offenses. One of the most feared defenders in the game, he is remembered as a quiet, fun-loving, sincere, country gentleman. Fred's accolades were numerous, but his love for the game, his teammates and those close to him are what endeared him to so many."

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