Dave Wilcox, a legendary linebacker enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, passed away at the age of 80 on Wednesday. Having earned Pro Bowl honors seven times during his remarkable 11-season tenure with the San Francisco 49ers, Wilcox left an indelible mark on the game.
The announcement of his death came from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, though details about the location and cause were not disclosed. It was mentioned, however, that Wilcox had recently undergone heart surgery.
In a statement, Jim Porter, the president of the Hall of Fame, acknowledged Wilcox’s transformative impact on the outside linebacker position, solidifying his everlasting legacy in Canton.
Drafted in 1964 by both the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and the AFL’s Houston Oilers, Wilcox chose the 49ers, embarking on a stellar career. Renowned for his physical and tenacious style of play, he excelled in neutralizing tight ends at the line of scrimmage while displaying impressive coverage skills, accumulating 14 career interceptions. His aggressive playing style earned him the moniker “the Intimidator.”
John Brodie, the longtime San Francisco quarterback and Wilcox’s teammate for a decade, praised him as “the best outside linebacker that has ever played the game — by a long way,” according to a statement from the Hall of Fame.
NFL, who remarkably missed only one game in his 11-year career, earned first-team All-Pro selections in 1971 and 1972 and a second-team nod in 1967. He played a pivotal role in the 49ers’ defensive efforts that propelled them to the National Football Conference title game in 1970 and 1971, although they fell to the Dallas Cowboys on both occasions.
Born on Sept. 29, 1942, in Ontario, Ore., Wilcox began his college football journey at Boise Junior College (now Boise State University) before transferring to the University of Oregon.
Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, Wilcox is survived by his wife, Merle, and his sons, Justin and Joshua. Justin Wilcox currently serves as the head football coach at the University of California, Berkeley.