Patrick Willis must be 49ers’ next player to get in Hall of Fame

Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Patrick Willis has to wait at least one more year before he can be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, yet he’s certainly deserving.

It was absolutely phenomenal to see San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend in Canton, Ohio.

Perhaps one day, there’ll be a little footnote on Lynch’s bust about his phenomenal work as the Niners’ top player executive and not just the work he put together on the field as a Hall of Fame player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos.

With each Hall of Fame class, though, there are always calls for the snubs and players who are deserving to get in but, for whatever the reasons, haven’t just yet.

San Francisco has no shortage of these players, of course. Fans have been calling for running back Roger Craig to be enshrined for years now. But with each passing year, the chances of him getting in seem to diminish.

If that’s the case, former perennial Pro Bowl and All-Pro linebacker, Patrick Willis, has to be the next 49ers player to don a gold jacket.

Why was Patrick Willis not a first-ballot Hall of Famer?

It was a bit strange not to see Willis included on the list of players to be inducted during their first year of eligibility.

Even the casual football fan can go over Willis’ stat sheet and see the kind of impact he made over his eight-year career, which was unfortunately cut short because of chronic injuries:

Patrick Willis Defense & Fumbles Table

Provided by
Generated 8/9/2021.

*denotes Pro Bowl selection
+denotes first-team All-Pro selection

A Pro Bowler in all but one of his seasons and a first-team All-Pro in all but three suggests Hall of Fame-caliber play, right?

And during the heyday of his career, Willis was right up there with another Hall of Fame linebacker, Ray Lewis, for being considered the best at his position in the entire league.

One might guess the selection committee balked at including Willis because of his relatively shortened career. Yet that same committee didn’t hesitate to include former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, whose six Pro Bowl nods and three first-team All-Pro selections spanning a nine-year career still fell short of those same lofty accolades Willis reached.

The sole thing Johnson arguably has going for him over Willis is longevity, and that’s solely by one year only.

A snub? Most definitely.

Patrick Willis still deserves to get in the Hall of Fame soon

Over time, few fans care whether or not a player was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. All that matters is getting in, not necessarily when it takes place.

Going through the annals of Niners’ recent history, Willis will get in.

It’s just a matter of time.

Another former San Francisco player who might end up in the hall, longtime left tackle Joe Staley, already expressed his surprise that Willis wasn’t inducted at his first year of eligibility.

Perhaps the selection criteria for being a first-ballot Hall of Famer is based solely on those who are surefire, never-had-a-doubt kind of players, while those who have to wait a year or two afterwards are those who probably deserve to get in but maybe didn’t receive the same kind of attention across the league as those entering in year one of eligibility.

A rational argument? Not necessarily. Willis deserved to get in right away.

Yet waiting a year or two won’t be a bad thing at all. Lynch, a perennial Pro Bowler in his own right, had to wait 14 years before being enshrined.

Willis might have to wait just a little bit. But make no mistake, he’ll be the next 49ers player to receive the coveted honor.

Next. 4 former 49ers who need to be enshrined in Hall of Fame. dark