Former San Francisco 49ers defensive end Fred Dean passed away Wednesday night at the age of 68. A Pro Football Hall of Fame selection (2008) and Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame inductee (2009), Dean helped the 49ers capture the Super Bowl XVI and Super Bowl XIX Championships.
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."
After joining the 49ers in a 1981 mid-season trade from the San Diego Chargers, Dean appeared in 57 regular season games (five starts) and nine postseason contests (one start) with San Francisco. Once sacks became an official statistic in 1982, Dean was credited with 28.0 sacks and was a four-time All-Pro (1979-81 & 1983) and Pro Bowl (1979-81 & 1983) selection. He was also named the United Press International's (UPI) NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1981. In 1983, he registered a career-high 17.5 sacks, which ranks as the second-most in a single season in franchise history. That season, he racked up a franchise single-game record 6.0 sacks in San Francisco's 27-0 victory over the New Orleans Saints on November 13, 1983.
Born Frederick Rudolph Dean in Arcadia, LA, he attended Louisiana Tech University where he earned All-Southland Conference honors and was part of teams that won 44 of 48 career games. Dean spent more than six seasons with the San Diego Chargers (1975-81) after the team selected him with the 33rd overall selection in the 1975 NFL Draft.