Taylor and Willis Hall of Fame Release
The San Francisco 49ers and the York family today announced that John Taylor and Patrick Willis will be the newest inductees into the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame. The two new additions mark 30 members of the prestigious Hall of Fame for one of the most storied franchises in all of sports.
“John and Patrick represent two generations of 49ers excellence,” said 49ers CEO Jed York. “They are both members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade teams, which speaks to how impactful they were on the field. Off the field, they were exemplary and set the standard for what it means to be a 49er. John was an electric wide receiver with some of the most memorable plays in franchise history, including the game-winning 10-yard touchdown reception in Super Bowl XXIII. Patrick was one of the most dominant linebackers we’ve ever seen. His leadership and passion for the game helped make everyone around him better. We are honored to induct John and Patrick into the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame, where they will be forever recognized among our all-time greats.”
“From my heart, I would like to thank Eddie DeBartolo and his family for giving this guy from Delaware State a chance,” said Taylor. “I am also appreciative of Denise DeBartolo York and Dr. John York and feel extremely indebted to Jed York for his thoughtfulness over the years and throughout this process. I must also mention my gratefulness to the late Neil Smith who recruited me, for without his nod, none of this would be happening.
“I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention the front office staff, with an extra special dose of gratitude to Carri Kimball and Darla Maeda. I want to thank them for their benevolence while I was playing and their continued support throughout my retirement.
“I always played the game not looking for AWARDS but REWARDS of the soul, like even being mentioned with such great players as Joe Montana, Roger Craig and Ronnie Lott, who are already enshrined in the 49ers Hall of Fame. This is truly awesome.
“To my college teammates and any other athlete attending a small HBCU – guess what? We did it! We are forever hallowed in the 49ers Hall of Fame.”
“Being selected by the 49ers in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft was amazing,” said Willis. “It was a realization of a dream and vision! As it turned out, it was just the beginning of an incredible journey with the greatest franchise in the NFL. With teammates who became like family, coaches who supported my growth, an organization that provided the best throughout my career and fans who are forever faithful, I couldn’t ask for anything more. I am proud to have spent my entire career with the 49ers and I am grateful to the organization for taking a chance on a kid from Bruceton, TN, that had a lot to learn but was hungry for greatness.
“It is an honor to be enshrined in the 49ers Hall of Fame and humbling to stand among some of the legends who have preceded me, players who set new standards in football, sportsmanship, community impact and more. To the 49ers Faithful – thank you for always staying true to the red and gold! I am forever a 49er and forever grateful for the chance to excel at the game I enjoyed in the amazing San Francisco Bay Area.”
Originally drafted by the 49ers in the third round (76th overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft, Taylor spent his entire 10-year career (1986-95) with the 49ers. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1988 and 1989 and was a member of three Super Bowl Championship teams (Super Bowl XXIII, Super Bowl XXIV and Super Bowl XXIX). A member of the franchise’s Ten-Year Club, Taylor was also the recipient of the team’s Len Eshmont Award in 1991, which is voted on by the players and given to the 49er who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont.
Taylor appeared in 121 games (102 starts) and finished his career with 347 receptions for 5,598 yards, and 43 touchdowns to go along with 149 punt returns for 1,517 yards and two touchdowns. His 149 punt returns are the most in franchise history while his 1,517 punt return yards rank second. He also saw action in 17 postseason games (16 starts) and added 46 receptions for 734 yards and six touchdowns. In addition to being named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 1980s All-Decade Team as a punt returner, Taylor is also enshrined in the Black College Football Hall of Fame and the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame.
Originally drafted by San Francisco in the first round (11th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft, Willis spent all eight seasons of his NFL career with the 49ers. In addition to being named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2007, Willis became the first player in 49ers history to be selected as an All-Pro in each of his first six seasons (First Team – 2007, 2009-12; Second Team – 2008). In 2020, Willis was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2010s All-Decade Team.
A seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Willis was the first 49ers player since S Ronnie Lott to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. He also became the first player in franchise history to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons. Willis, along with DT Aaron Donald, LB Lawrence Taylor and LB Derrick Thomas, are the only defensive players since the merger in 1970 to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of their first seven seasons.
Willis is a two-time recipient of the Bill Walsh Award, which is voted on by the coaches and awarded to the 49er who best represented the standard of professional excellence established by Walsh. Along with DT Justin Smith and RB Frank Gore, the three are the only two-time winners of the award in team history.
Willis started all 112 games in which he appeared and registered 1,225 tackles, 20.5 sacks, eight interceptions (returning two for touchdowns), 16 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 53 passes defensed. From 2007-14, he was one of two players (DE Julius Peppers) in the NFL with at least 20.0 sacks (20.5), 15 forced fumbles (16) and eight interceptions (eight). Willis also started all eight playoff games and registered 84 tackles, 2.0 sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery and two passes defensed.
About the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame
Established in 2009 and dedicated to Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., the patriarch of one of the most storied franchises in all of professional sports, the 49ers Hall of Fame was created to recognize players, coaches and executives who have made exceptional contributions to the organization. As a prerequisite for induction, all 49ers Hall of Fame candidates must have displayed one or more of the following qualifications: outstanding production and performance on the field, key contributions to the team’s success, and/or the embodiment of the spirit and essence of the San Francisco 49ers.