49ers' Patrick Willis Finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

Former 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis was announced Wednesday as one of 15 modern-day players finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024.

Willis, in his fifth year of eligibility, has made his third consecutive finals appearance.

Willis made the Pro Bowl in his first seven seasons in the NFL and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection after being selected 11th overall by the 49ers in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Willis led the league in tackles twice, recorded 20.5 sacks, recorded 16 forced fumbles and broke up 53 passes in his career. He was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2010s.

Willis appeared in just six games in his eighth season. A few months later, in March 2015, he announced his retirement citing a chronic health condition.

The list of modern-day finalists includes two first-time eligible candidates: defensive end Julius Peppers and tight end Antonio Gates.

Peppers was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time All Pro during his 17-year NFL career. He ranks 4th all-time with 159.5 career sacks behind Hall of Famers Bruce Smith, Reggie White and Kevin Greene.

Gates played his 16-year NFL career in the Chargers organization. He made eight Pro Bowls and was a three-time All-Pro. Among tight ends in NFL history, he ranks No. 1 with 116 touchdown receptions. 1 and third with 11,841 receiving yards.

There are four finalists who moved into the top 10 a year ago: wide receivers Andre Johnson, Torey Holt and Reggie Wayne and defensive end Jared Allen.

Other returning finalists are return specialist Devin Hester, defensive end Dwight Freeney, tackle Willie Anders and safety Darren Woodson.

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Additionally, four first-time finalists were previously eligible: Fred Taylor, offensive guard Jahri Evans and defensive backs Eric Allen and Rodney Harrison.

Here are the modern-day player finalists (in alphabetical order):

– Eric Allen, cornerback – 1988-1994 Philadelphia Eagles, 1995-97 New Orleans Saints, 1998-2001

Oakland Raiders

– Jared Allen, defensive end – 2004-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2008-2013 Minnesota Vikings, 2014-15

Chicago Bears, 2015 Carolina Panthers

– Willie Anderson, offensive tackle – 1996-2007 Cincinnati Bengals, 2008 Baltimore Ravens

— Zahri Evans, guard – 2006-2016 New Orleans Saints, 2017 Green Bay Packers

– Dwight Freeney, defensive end/outside linebacker – 2002-2012 Indianapolis Colts, 2013-14

San Diego Chargers, 2015 Arizona Cardinals, 2016 Atlanta Falcons, 2017 Seattle Seahawks, 2017

Detroit Lions

– Antonio Gates, tight end – 2003-2018 San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers

– Rodney Harrison, defense – 1994-2002 San Diego Chargers, 2003-08 New England Patriots

– Devin Hester, punt returner/kick returner/wide receiver – 2006-2013 Chicago Bears, 2014-15

Atlanta Falcons, 2016 Baltimore Ravens

– Torey Holt, wide receiver – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars

– Andre Johnson, wide receiver – 2003-2014 Houston Texans, 2015 Indianapolis Colts, 2016

Tennessee Titans

– Julius Peppers, defensive end – 2002-09, 2017-18 Carolina Panthers, 2010-13 Chicago Bears,

2014-16 Green Bay Packers

– Fred Taylor, running back – 1998-2008 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2009-2010 New England Patriots

– Reggie Wayne, wide receiver – 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts

– Patrick Willis, linebacker – 2007-2014 San Francisco 49ers

– Darren Woodson, defense – 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys

The selection committee may select five modern-day players for 2024.

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Earlier, Randy Gradishar, Steve McMichael and Art Powell were selected as senior finalists along with Buddy Parker from the coach/contributor category.

Each of those four will be voted on separately in conjunction with the meeting to decide which modern-day players will be selected for the Class of 2024. The next class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be announced on Thursday, August 8. “NFL Honors” broadcast nationally from Las Vegas, site of Super Bowl 58.

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