The Pro Football Hall of Fame will formally induct the new class this Saturday, with former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo on top of our list of reasons to watch. This marks the second straight season the 49ers have had a notable inductee (Charles Haley). Prior to these two years, Jerry Rice’s 2010 induction was the most notable previous retired 49er.
The inductions provide an opportunity for folks to consider who might earn a spot in the Hall of Fame down the road. The 49ers have question marks up and down their roster, but there is still some talent there. And of course, there are notable names around the league with 49ers connections.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell took a look at all 32 rosters and projected future Hall of Famers. He looked at players and tried to project who Hall voters would consider, as opposed to who he thought deserved a spot. He acknowledged his methodology had holes, with skill position players and postseason success bumping some players ahead of potentially deserving linemen and other under-the-radar types. He also focused on players with at least a 10 percent chance of making it, but added others as needed.
For the 49ers, the others added was necessary. His only player listed was offensive tackle Joe Staley. He listed him with a 1 to 10 percent chance of getting into the Hall of Fame, saying the left tackle, “has made five consecutive Pro Bowls, but the league didn't notice how good he was until 2011, which limits how many he'll be able to accrue before time runs out on his career.” He’s still playing well, and does not seem to be losing it physically, so we’ll see how many more years he can stick around.
The only notable ex-49er listed was wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Barnwell listed him with a 40 percent chance, pointing to him as a “Hall of Very Good” player. He said it was more a comment on how stacked receiving classes are going to be in the modern NFL. He also said, “It hurts a bit that Boldin's most productive seasons came at the very beginning of his career and are easier to forget than a late-career spike would be. He'll finish his career toward the bottom of the top 20 in receptions and receiving yards, but he might not have accumulated quite enough to make it into the Hall.” His numbers are a little bit off, as he is already No. 12 in receptions. There are three active players ahead of him (Andre Johnson, Jason Witten, Larry Fitzgerald), and he is 15 back of Isaac Bruce on the leaderboard. Johnson, Fitzgerald, and Steve Smith are all ahead of him in yards. 500 receiving yards would bump him into the top 15.
Naturally, Barnwell got a lot of feedback about his rankings. He had this to say about NaVorro Bowman and Frank Gore:
Think Gore and NaVorro Bowman are the two people missing who deserved to be on there. https://t.co/0GB5531Ka7— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) August 3, 2016
Bowman has a year back from his torn knee ligaments, and looked solid in his return. He has four All Pro honors and three Pro Bowl berths. Considering he’s still only 28 years old, if he can build on last year, he could still work his way into Hall of Fame consideration.
Gore is currently No. 15 in rushing yards, with 12,040. Adrian Peterson trails him by 365 yards, so AP could eclipse him this season. But that aside, 500 yards would put Gore into the top ten in rushing. If he can somehow manager a 1,000 yard season, he would be in the top 8. He is No. 18 all-time in total career yards from scrimmage, and 1,000 total yards would put him into No. 11 all-time. Gore has five Pro Bowls to his name and one All Pro season, so bumping up those career yardage totals will be important if he is going to get into the Hall of Fame.