Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Rank can’t believe ex-49ers LB Patrick Willis isn’t a Hall of Fame finalist

Jan 6, 2021 at 8:37 AM--

For the second consecutive year, former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis failed to make the cutdown from 25 modern-era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to 15 finalists. Many were shocked when Willis' name wasn't among the list of finalists last year. Imagine how they feel after it happened again.

NFL Media analyst Adam Rank was among those "absolutely stunned" in 2020 when Willis' name was left off last year's list of finalists.

"I thought he was one of the few automatic selections," Rank wrote last year. "But apparently some Hall of Fame voters tend to favor longevity over guys who were dominant over a shorter period of time."

This year, Rank's feelings surrounding the snub haven't changed. He named the linebacker as a player who should be a lock for the Hall of Fame but isn't even a finalist.

"I really want whomever is keeping Patrick Willis from being a finalist to explain themselves," Rank wrote on Tuesday after the finalists were officially announced. "Willis was a FIVE-TIME All-Pro during his eight years. He was also the Defensive Rookie of the Year in '07. There is no reasonable explanation for why he's not already in the Hall, let alone being snubbed here."

The 49ers made Willis the No. 11 overall draft pick in 2007, and he spent eight seasons with San Francisco before retiring after the 2014 season. He was named to seven Pro Bowls and, as Rank pointed out, is a five-time first-team All-Pro.

Willis finished his career with 950 tackles, 60 tackles for a loss, 41 quarterback hits, 20.5 sacks, eight interceptions, two scores, 53 passes defensed, and 16 forced fumbles. He racked up over 100 tackles during six of his eight seasons and led the league in tackles twice.

One former player with a link to the 49ers who was named a finalist is the team's current general manager, John Lynch. The former safety played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos.

"John Lynch is another guy who I think could get in," wrote Rank. "I'm kind of surprised he didn't make it a year ago, when the 49ers made their run to the Super Bowl. And maybe if it doesn't happen this year, he's just never going to get it. How many times can he keep getting passed over?"

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