SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Former San Francisco 49ers star defensive lineman and NFL Hall of Famer Fred Dean has passed away at the age of 68 after being hospitalized with COVID-19.

The NFL Hall of Fame confirmed Dean’s passing Thursday morning.

“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. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Fred’s memory.”

Fred Dean #74 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the New York Giants during an NFL football game November 29, 1981 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Dean was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1975 and became an All-Pro player with the team, helping lead them to a division title in 1979 and 1980. In 1981, he was traded to the 49ers following a contract dispute

Dean’s mid-season arrival to the 49ers immediately paid dividends. In his first game after only a couple of practices with the team, he recorded six sacks against Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White in a 45-14 rout.

He continued to terrorize quarterbacks throughout the rest of the season, winning NFC Defensive Player of the Year and helping lead the 49ers to their first Super Bowl title, recording five sacks in team’s 26-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI.

Dean also helped lead the 49ers to another title in Super Bowl XIX and was elected to four Pro Bowls. He was also a two-time First Team All-Pro and was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2008.



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