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."
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.