The 2019 national title game is officially in the rear view mirror, but there was one particularly notable piece of 49ers-related news just prior to the game. The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame announced their 2019 class, and former 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis is part of the star-studded class. The class will be formally inducted later this year on December 10th.
The 2019 College Football Hall of Fame class includes a host of big names. Among others are Torry Holt, Raghib Ismail, Darren McFadden, Jake Plummer, Troy Polamalu, Joe Thomas, Vince Young, and former 49ers head coach Dennis Erickson. The eligibility rules are a little odd. You have to have been a first-team All American, which leaves out some highly talented players that might have been stuck playing at the same time as some other players at the same position. Somehow Rocket Ismail is only just now getting in, which I don’t quite understand.
Whatever the case, it’s a deserving honor for Willis, who was a machine at Ole Miss before taking his talents to the NFL. His NFL career was cut short due to a toe issue, but I would argue he is a potential Pro Football Hall of Famer given his dominance over a short period. Willis played eight seasons, and earned seven Pro Bowl appearances, five first-team All Pro nods, and a second team All Pro. If you don’t include his final, injury-riddled season, he was an All Pro every year of his NFL career. He didn’t have the longevity of some players, but Terrell Davis is an example of a great player who saw his career cut short. It’s hard to compare opposite sides of the ball in this regard, but Willis is deserving of consideration.
The college football national title game went down at Levi’s Stadium Monday evening, and Willis was on hand to flip the coin. He also chatted before the game about the 49ers.