49ers create Hall to honor their own

It makes almost too much sense that one of the greatest franchises in the history of professional sports would have its own Hall of Fame. And now the 49ers, in their new effort to connect with their glorious past as they set forth into a hopeful new future, have created a bastion to honor their most legendary performers. To be sure, the initial list of enshrinees is a pretty impressive group.

The Hall is being named after Edward DeBartolo Sr., who bought the team in 1977 for his namesakc son, who as team owner presided over San Francisco's legendary rise to greatness during the 1980s. DeBartolo Sr. is the grandfather of current team president Jed York.

"As someone who was raised alongside 49ers legends," York said, "I am honored to be announcing the creation of the Edward DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame. This exclusive group will be comprised of those who have made our franchise what it is today."

It is indeed a very exclusive group. The original 16 inductees are members of the 49ers family who have had their jersey numbers already retired by the organization and those former 49ers who have been enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

That, obviously, is a collection of the greatest individuals ever to play for the 49ers in their 64-year history. The list includes quarterbacks John Brodie, Joe Montana. Y.A. Tittle and Steve Young, running backs John Henry Johnson, Hugh McElhenny and Joe Perry, wide receiver Dwight Clark, offensive tackle Bob St. Clair, defensive linemen Fred Dean, Leo Nomellini and Charlie Krueger, defensive backs Jimmy Johnson and Ronnie Lott, linebacker Dave Wilcox and coach Bill Walsh, the patriarch of the team's dynasty.

The Hall has been established by the team to recognize players, coaches and executives who have made exceptional contributions to the organization. The 49ers have determined that Hall candidates must have displayed one or more of the following qualifications as a prerequisite for induction: outstanding production and performance on the field, key contributions to the team's success and/or the embodiment of the spirit and essence of the 49ers.

The actual Hall will be established at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, where a plaque displaying the likeness of each player will be put on exhibit.

The initial members of the 49ers Hall of Fame will be recognized formally during alumni weekend on Oct. 11, when today's 49ers host the Atlanta Falcons before the team goes on its bye week.

Following the announcement of the 2009 inductees, the 49ers plan to enshrine at least two members each year. The final voting for inductees will be conducted by fans on the team's Web site.

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