The Pro Football Hall of Fame revealed its finalists for the Class of 2022 with former 49ers defensive lineman Bryant Young and linebacker Patrick Willis among the 15 Modern-Era Player finalists.
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. After suffering a devastating knee injury in 1998, Young fully returned for the 1999 season and recorded over 70 tackles, 11 sacks and a safety, earning him his second Pro Bowl appearance and NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors. 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 in 2020 and celebrated this season 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' first time as a finalist in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame alongside former wide receiver John Taylor on Dec. 18.
The Modern-Era player finalists are determined by a vote of the Hall's Selection Committee, a process that began with 122 nominees, per NFL.com. That group of nominees was trimmed to 26 semifinalists in November, that also included running back Ricky Watters and wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
In addition to the Modern-Era finalists will be senior finalist Cliff Branch, contributor finalist Art McNally and coach finalist Dick Vermeil.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 will be inducted during NFL Honors, which airs live Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. PT on ABC.