Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Wilcox, who made the Pro Bowl seven times in his 11 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, died Wednesday. He was 80 years old.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, announced the death, but did not say where he died or give a cause, although it did say that he had recently had heart surgery.
Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement that Wilcox “transformed the outside linebacker position—one of many feats that made him a forever home in Canton.”
Wilcox was drafted in 1964 by both the 49ers of the National Football League and the Houston Oilers of the American Football League. He signed with San Francisco and became one of the best and most durable linebackers in the game.
He was known for his physical playing style, which neutralized tight ends at the line of scrimmage. But he was also adept in coverage, and had 14 interceptions in his career. In recognition of his aggressive play, he was widely known as “The Intimidator”.
Longtime San Francisco quarterback John Brodie, who played with Wilcox for 10 seasons, was quoted by the Hall of Fame as saying that Wilcox was “the best outside linebacker who ever played the game – for a long time. “
Wilcox, who missed only one game in his 11-year career, was a first team All-Pro selection in 1971 and 1972 and a second team selection in 1967.
He was a key part of the defense that helped the 49ers reach the National Football Conference title game in 1970 and 1971. San Francisco lost to Dallas both times.
David Wilcox was born on September 29, 1942, in Ontario, Ore., and began his college career at Boise Junior College (now Boise State University) in Idaho before transferring to the University of Oregon.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
His survivors include his wife, Merle, and their sons, Justin, head football coach at the University of California, Berkeley, and Joshua.
The New York Times contributed reporting.