After a stellar college career with Louisiana Tech linebacker, Dean entered the NFL as a second round pick for the San Diego Chargers in 1975. He was immediately moved to the defense and quickly became one of the the league’s top top players, claiming his first Pro Bowl spot in 1979 and an All-Pro and Pro Bowl spot in 1980.
Dean played for the Chargers until 1981, when he joined the San Francisco 49ers by trade for a second-round draft pick. Known for his combination of speed and power, Dean made an instant impact for the Niners, racking up 12 sacks (unofficially, as sacks only became an official statistic in 1982) in 11 games and winning an All Nod. -Pro as Niners. won Super Bowl XVI.
Two years later, Dean had his best season in the NFL, finishing with 17.5 sacks, most in the NFC. This included an NFL record six in a game against the New Orleans Saints as he won his fourth and final Pro Bowl honor.
In 1985, Dean and the Niners won another championship, beating the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX.
“I could take it that he was born by the Chargers but have a renewed life with the 49ers,” Dean said in his Hall of Fame speech. “And being with the 49ers, I found that on the other side of that bridge, on the other side was my rainbow, the real end of a rainbow. Not financially, but with everyone. ”
Dean retired after the 1985 season, having played 141 games in 11 seasons. He was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame on August 2, 2008. Former Niners owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. introduced Dean for the induction and often called him one of the missing pieces that have placed the 49ers at the top.
“While it can’t be said that Fred Dean’s greatness as an NFL player began when he first joined the 49ers in 1981, I can say as a team owner that the greatness of the 49ers started with the arrival of Fred Dean in San Francisco, ”DeBartolo said then.
Dean was born February 24, 1952 in Arcadia, Louisiana, and attended Ruston High before arriving at Louisiana Tech. He has been drafted four times to the All-Southland Conference for the Bulldogs, which won the 1973 Division II National Championship and four consecutive Southland Conference titles with Dean racking up 392 career tackles. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Louisiana Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.