Hall of Famer, former 49er Hugh McElhenny has died at the age of 93

News agency

NFL Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny, elusive passed away from the 1950s. He was 93 years old.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame said in a press release that McCleary died of natural causes on June 17 at his Nevada home, and his brother-in-law Chris Berman confirmed his death.

Elected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1970, McElhenny’s exciting runs and comprehensive skills as a runner, receiver and kick-back made him one of the best NFL players of the 1950s. He was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1952 (before the award became official) and created two All-Pro teams, six Pro Bowls and the NFL’s All-Decade squad of the 1950s.

“Hugh McElhenny was a threat throughout the game offensively – rushing, receiving, passing and as returning a kick and a drag. His all-round talent – which was evident to professional football scouts when Hugh was still a teenager – will be celebrated and maintained,” Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement. Its forever in Canton.

An all-conference player in Washington, with multiple Pacific Coast Conference records, McElhenny was named 9th overall in the 1952 draft and made an immediate impact. Not only did he command the NFL’s yards per carry (7.0) that season, but McElhenny had the longest dash from the scrimmage, 89 yards, and the longest return kick, 94 yards. He has scored 10 touchdowns as a rookie.

It was the start of a nine-season period in which McElhenny was the 49ers’ primary offensive weapon. Only in 1954, when his shoulder dropped him after six games, and 1960, his final year in San Francisco, wasn’t McElhenny a focal point for the Niners.

He was also a lifesaver for the franchise, which was fitting because the 49ers once tried to get him out of high school when they were still in the NFL Conference.
Lou Spadia, the team’s general manager, said, “When Hugh joined the 49ers in 1952, it was questionable whether our franchise could last. McElhenny removed all doubts. That’s why we call it our franchise saver.”

The defenders were calling it something else because they got the arms full of air instead of the ball carrier.

“My attitude in carrying the ball was fear,” he said. “Not for fear of getting hurt, but for fear of falling behind and taking down and embarrassing myself and my teammates.”

Easily recognizable by his long stride and knee-high movement, McElhenny was not only quick but owned the moves of a break dancer decades before break dancing became a thing.

“Preparing for a team that lists McElhenney on the roster, you can’t take the risk,” said Hump Ball, who coached arch rival the Rams from 1952 to 1954.

Coincidentally, fellow longtime 49er linebacker Joe Perry – another Hall of Fame – played at Compton Junior College in California, where McElhenney starred before heading to Washington. Together in San Francisco, they formed one of the best backstrokes in professional football.

But the Niners made the postseason only once with McElhenny, losing a Western Conference title playoff with Detroit in 1957. By 1961, with McElhenny eroding a bit, he was left on the expansion draft list and earned by Minnesota. He had a solid season and made the Pro Bowl as the Vikings went 3-11 in the opening season.

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