Hall of Famer John Henry Johnson passes away

June 4, 2011, 6:23 pm
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June 4, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comJohn Henry Johnson, a member of the 49ers' famed "Million Dollar Backfield," died Friday. He was 81.Johnson's death comes less than six weeks after Joe "The Jet" Perry passed away. Johnson, Perry, Hugh McElhenny and Y.A. Tittle comprised the only full-house backfield to have all four of its members enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame."I was deeply saddened to hear of John Henry Johnson's passing," 49ers owner and co-chairman John York said. "He was a good friend, not only to my family and me, but the entire 49ers organization. As a member of 'The Million Dollar Backfield' he holds a cherished place in both 49ers and NFL history. His contributions to the game of football will be forever celebrated. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the entire Johnson family."

When Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound fullback, retired after the 1966 season he ranked behind only Jim Brown, Jim Taylor and Perry in NFL career rushing with 6,803 yards.He played just three seasons with the 49ers, and gained 1,051 yards rushing in 31 games. He was traded to the Detroit Lions in 1957, where he won an NFL championship. In 1960, he moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he enjoyed his best seasons.Johnson became the first player in Steelers history to rush for more than 1,000 yards, accomplishing the feat in 1962 and '64. He was named to the Pro Bowl four times in his career.Johnson played at Saint Mary's College in Moraga until the school discontinued football. After transferring to Arizona State, Johnson was a second-round draft pick of the Steelers. He opted to play his first professional season in the Canadian Football League.When he entered the NFL with the 49ers in 1954, he rushed for 681 yards with a lofty 5.3-yard average.Johnson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

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