49ers' Eddie DeBartolo Jr. selected as HOF finalist

Former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. has a chance to join 2015 inductees Bill Polian and Ron Wolf in the "contributor" category of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame announced Wednesday that DeBartolo has been selected as a finalist for the Class of 2016.

DeBartolo and his father jumpstarted the 49ers' dynasty of the 1980s and early '90s by hiring Bill Walsh, the protégé of the legendary coach who essentially invented modern football strategy.

"Eddie DeBartolo grew up in Northern Ohio, in Youngstown. He idolized Paul Brown," former Bengals safety Solomon Wilcots told Around The NFL in May. "Paul Brown had gone to Miami of Ohio, he had won a national championship at Ohio State. After World War II, he started the Cleveland Browns and went to the championship game in 10 straight years. So the DeBartolo family admired Paul Brown. If they can't get Paul Brown, they decided to get Paul Brown's protégé. And they went and got him. That's how Bill Walsh ended up there, and the rest is history."

Under DeBartolo's leadership, the 49ers would go on to draft or acquire a legion of Hall of Fame players, including Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley.

During DeBartolo's 23 years as owner, the Niners won five Super Bowls. His team still owns the record for most wins over a 10-year span in NFL history.

DeBartolo was a Hall of Fame finalist in 2012, 2013 and 2014. He will need approval from at least 80 percent of the full voting body on the eve of Super Bowl 50 to earn election.

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