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Historian explains why 49ers legend Young deserves HOF

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Bryant Young will go into the 49ers Hall of Fame this season.

There is another Hall of Fame he should be entering, too, says one of pro football’s top historians.

Young remains a strong candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, though he has been a finalist just once. He still has 11 more years as a modern-era nominee before he transfers into the pool of senior candidates, where an impossibly long list of deserving players has formed.

“It would be just a travesty if Bryant Young got thrown into the senior swamp,” Pro Football Journal’s John Turney said on 49ers Talk.

Young was announced as an inductee into the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame last year. He was never recognized with a ceremony due to the pandemic, so he will be honored this season at the 49ers' Nov. 7 game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium.

Young gave the 49ers everything during his 14-year career. His teammates voted him the winner of the 49ers’ top honor, the Len Eshmont Award, eight times in his career. Nobody else in franchise history has won the award more than twice.

The honor is presented for “inspirational and courageous play.” But Turney does not even consider those areas of Young's contributions to a team when he is building a case for him to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I think he should be in the Hall of Fame,” Turney said. “A couple years ago I made my own list of the top 4-3 defensive tackles, and I rated him ahead of several Hall of Famers, including Cortez Kennedy and Warren Sapp.”


Young was dominant against the run and the pass. Kennedy was strong in the run game but had 31 fewer sacks than Young. Sapp had 96.5 sacks in his career, while Young registered 89.5. Young had 49 more tackles in his career than Sapp. Young excelled at making stops behind the line of scrimmage.

“What I like about Young is he played a different position than Warren Sapp,” Turney said. “Of course, they’re both defensive interior guys; they’re both tackles. But Warren Sapp was an ‘under’ tackle. He was always a three-technique, so he had life a little bit different in that he was getting up the field every time.

“Bryant Young was playing left defensive tackle. So part of the time he was a three-technique. Part of the time, he was a nose tackle. So he had more responsibilities. And even doing that, he still ended up only seven sacks short what Warren Sapp was able to do. That says a lot right there.”

Former Patriots and Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour enters 2022 as a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame after advancing to the final 10 this year. A maximum of five modern-era players can be elected in each class.

Turney said he believes both Seymour and Young are more than deserving of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He would like to see it happen sooner than later.

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Turney said the selection of two defensive lineman can also help correct what has been an over-emphasis on rewarding skill players.

“If you do the proportions, there’s a hundred more skill players in the Hall of Fame than there would be on a hypothetical football field,” Turney said. “So it’s kind of out of balance.

“I’d like to see Richard Seymour get in this year, and I’d love to see him joined by a tackle named Bryant Young.”

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