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John Henry Johnson, 49ers great was 81

Friday, June 3, 2011

image The Pro Football Hall of Fame running back who was part of the 49ers famed “Million Dollar Backfield” in the mid-1950s died today in Tracy. A high school standout at Pittsburg in the East Bay, he went on to star at Saint Mary’s College before playing 14 years in the pros. He was on the Detroit Lions championship team in 1957 and later had some of his most productive seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers (pictured) in the 1960s.

Add: Yet, Johnson is likely best remembered for the three seasons he spent with the 49ers in the same backfield with Joe “The Jet” Perry (who died in April), Hugh McElhenny, and quarterback Y. A. Tittle—part of what many consider the best backfield in NFL history.

Noted: The Mercury News has a nice slide show, including a photo of Johnson being carried off the field at Kezar Stadium after his 91-yard kickoff return in an early ‘50s game helped Saint Mary’s to a 7-7 tie against Georgia. Obituary: Mercury News
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