49ers’ Hall of Fame: John Taylor, Patrick Willis are this year’s honorees

Wide receiver John Taylor secured his spot in 49ers’ lore with a go-ahead, last-minute touchdown in the 1988 team’s Super Bowl win. Now he’s also getting a place in the team’s hall of fame.

Joining him in the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame will be linebacker Patrick Willis, as announced by CEO Jed York during Wednesday’s State of the Franchise show.

Taylor and Willis will be honored at the Dec. 19 home game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Defensive lineman Bryant Young, last year’s 49ers HOF honoree, will be honored Nov. 7 when the 49ers host the Arizona Cardinals; the COVID pandemic prevented the 49ers from hosting fans at Levi’s Stadium last year.

Taylor played for the 49ers from 1987-95, and his 112 games are tied with Terrell Owens for most by a 49ers wide receiver. Taylor was a three-time Super Bowl champion and ranks among the franchise’s top-10 leaders with 347 catches (tied-eighth), 5,598 yards (seventh) and a 16.1 yards-per-catch average that is second to Gene Washington (18.0).

“The first  thing that comes to my mind is I’m dreaming or what?” Taylor said on the State of the Franchise show. “I come from such a small school, half the people probably didn’t know where Delaware was, let alone Delaware State. I’m just grateful and appreciative.”

It’s fitting that Taylor will be honored against the Falcons in that he made the longest reception in 49ers’ history against them, a 97-yard touchdown pass from Steve Young in 1991. Taylor had 12 100-yard games, including a 286-yard effort in 1989 against the Rams that set a 49ers record, which Jerry Rice broke six years later against the Vikings (289 yards).

Willis retired six years ago after an eight-year career as a hard-hitting tackling force. He’s been a Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist each of his first two seasons of eligibility, but since missed the cut to 15 modern-era finalists.

“I’m truly honored and grateful,” Willis said sitting next to Taylor inside the 49ers Museum during the State of the Franchise interview. “The 49ers have a rich tradition and history, and to know I”ll be part of of a group of guys that are very few, I’m just truly honored.”

Drafted 11th overall in 2007, Willis won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, made seven Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams. He played six games in 2014 before surprisingly retiring in March 2015, citing foot injuries.

While Dave Wilcox and Charles Haley are the other linebackers in the 49ers’ Hall of Fame, Taylor joins fellow wide receivers Rice, Terrell Owens, R.C. Owens and Dwight Clark in it, honored with statues inside the 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium.

“Both these guys are members of All-Decade teams when they played. That speaks to how wonderful they were on the field,” York said. “Off the field, they set the standard what it means to be a 49er.”

On Young, York said: “We definitely want to make sure BY comes back and we celebrate his unbelievable career with the 49ers.”

 

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Author: Cam Inman

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