Hall of Fame defensive end Fred Dean dies from COVID-19 at 68

Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco 49ers

Hall of Famer Fred Dean has passed away due to the coronavirus.

Former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dwight Hicks reported that Fred Dean, who starred with both the 49ers and San Diego Chargers over his 11-year NFL career, was hospitalized after complications with COVID-19 last week. Unfortunately for the Chargers, 49ers, and football community as a whole, Dean could not win his battle with the virus.

Dean passed away at the age of 68, as the Pro Football Hall of Fame confirmed one of the best defensive ends of his era couldn’t overcome the COVID-19 virus.

Fred Dean was one of the premier pass rushers of the late 70s and early 80s

After a standout college career at Louisiana Tech, the Chargers picked him in the second round of the 1975 NFL Draft. While the Chargers were known for explosive offenses, their patchwork defenses prevented them from reaching a championship. Dean, in conjuction with Leroy Jones, Gary “Big Hands” Johnson, and Louie Kelcher, became known as the “Bruise Brothers” as they gave the Chargers some teeth on defense.

While he was named a Pro Bowler twice and a first-team All-Pro, Dean was traded to the 49ers amid a contract dispute. Many Charger fans call that one of the worst trades in franchise history, as some great Dan Fouts offenses were let down by a defense that didn’t have Dean on the edge. In his first game with the 49ers, Dean recorded six sacks against the rival Dallas Cowboys.

Dean would play for 4.5 seasons in San Francisco, making two more Pro Bowls and another first-team All-Pro selection. Along the way, Dean, who led the NFC in sacks with 17.5 in 1983, won Super Bowl rings in 1981 and 1984.

Dean might not have the gaudy numbers of some Hall of Fame pass rushers, but his ability to carry the Chargers on defense for years before helping the 49ers become one of the great dynasties in the history of the sport certainly qualifies him for introduction into Canton. At 68, Dean was taken from us far too soon.

Next: Greatest 49ers of all-time

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