Legendary Pro Football Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny, a major star in the 1950s, died recently in Nevada, the Hall of Fame announced Thursday. He was 93.
The Hall of Fame said McElhenny died of natural causes last Friday.
McElhenny was a six-time Pro Bowl running back who played 13 NFL seasons, including nine with the San Francisco 49ers from 1952-60. He was nicknamed “The King,” and is a member of the All-1950s decade team.
A first-round pick by San Francisco in the 1952 draft, McElhenny rushed for 5,281 yards and 38 touchdowns, caught 264 passes for 3,247 yards and 20 scores, accumulated 1,921 kickoff return yards and 920 punt return yards in 143 career games. He returned two punts for scores.
He also played for the Minnesota Vikings (1961-62), New York Giants (1963) and Detroit Lions (1964).
McElhenny was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970. His No. 39 was retired by the 49ers in 1971.
“Hugh McElhenny was a threat in all phases of the game offensively — rushing, pass receiving and as a kick and punt returner,” Jim Porter, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “His all-around talent — obvious to pro football scouts when Hugh was still a teenager — will be celebrated and preserved forever in Canton.”
Five of McElhenny’s Pro Bowl berths came during his tenure with the 49ers. He was part of the “Million Dollar Backfield” in the mid-1950 with quarterback Y.A. Tittle and fellow running backs Joe “the Jet” Perry and John Henry Johnson.
Prior to his NFL career, McElhenny starred at Washington from 1949-51 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
He produced a single-game school rushing record that still stands with 296 yards against Washington State in 1950. Overall, he rolled up 1,107 rushing yards for the Huskies in 1950.
His career rushing-yardage total of 2,499 ranks sixth in Huskies’ history.
McElhenny was a first-team All-America selection in 1951.