On Wednesday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame revealed its semifinalists for the Class of 2022 with four former members of the San Francisco 49ers being among the prestigious list. Defensive lineman Bryant Young, linebacker Patrick Willis, running back Ricky Watters and wide receiver Anquan Boldin were among the 26 Modern-Era Player Semifinalists.
Young, the 49ers first-round (seventh-overall) pick in the 1994 NFL Draft, earned four trips to the Pro Bowl and was named as an All-Pro in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2001 and was a part of San Francisco's Super Bowl XXIX championship team. This marks Young's second time as a nominee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The former defensive lineman was named into the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame on Nov. 6.
Willis, the 49ers former first-round pick (11th-overall) in the 2007 draft, played his entire eight-year career in San Francisco. The linebacker earned seven trips to the Pro Bowl, was a six-time All-Pro, named the 2007 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 2007. This marks Willis' second year as a semifinalist in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is set to be inducted into the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame on Dec. 18.
Watters was drafted by the 49ers in the second round (45th-overall) of the 1991 NFL Draft. Spending four seasons with San Francisco, Watters took part in the Super Bowl XXIX where he scored three touchdowns in the 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers, tying a Super Bowl mark shared by fellow 49ers Roger Craig and Jerry Rice. This marks Watters second appearance as a semifinalist.
Boldin highlights the list as one of the seven first-year eligible players along with Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Devin Hester, Robert Mathis, Vince Wilfork and DeMarcus Ware. Boldin spent three seasons in San Francisco after being traded to the 49ers from the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. Over his 14-year NFL career, Boldin earned a Super Bowl title with the Ravens, made three Pro Bowl appearances and was named the league's Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2015.
Fifteen finalists will be revealed in January. In addition to the modern-era finalists will be senior finalist Cliff Branch, contributor finalist Art McNally and coach finalist Dick Vermeil.
Full List of Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2022 Semifinalists
- Cornerback Eric Allen
- Defensive end Jared Allen
- Offensive tackle Willie Anderson
- Cornerback/safety Ronde Barber
- Wide receiver Anquan Boldin
- Offensive tackle Tony Boselli
- Safety LeRoy Butler
- Running back Eddie George
- Wide receiver/kick returner Devin Hester
- Wide receiver Torry Holt
- Wide receiver Andre Johnson
- Defensive end Robert Mathis
- Linebacker Sam Mills
- Defensive tackle Richard Seymour
- Wide receiver Steve Smith
- Wide receiver/special teams Steve Tasker
- Running back Fred Taylor
- Linebacker Zach Thomas
- Wide receiver Hines Ward
- Linebacker DeMarcus Ware
- Running back Ricky Watters
- Wide receiver Reggie Wayne
- Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork
- Linebacker Patrick Willis
- Safety Darren Woodson
- Defensive tackle Bryant Young