49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

January 27, 2009
Former 49ers receiver Billy Wilson passes away

The 49ers are reporting that Billy Wilson, a prolific receiver with the team from 1951-1960, has passed away at age 81. A six-time Pro Bowler, Wilson led the NFL three times in receptions. He is fourth among the 49ers' all-time receiving touchdown leaders. He averaged 14.5 yards per reception with 407 career receptions, marks that place him sixth in both categories among all-time 49ers players. After his playing career ended, Wilson became an assistant coach with the 49ers.

"When you look at what Billy accomplished in his 10 years as a 49ers player, it's quite remarkable," John and Denise DeBartolo York said in a statement. "Considered as one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the game, Billy's impact on the 49ers organization is far-reaching, not only as player, but also as a coach and administrator. We are grateful for all of Billy's contributions and he will be missed."

In 2003 Wilson was inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame. Former 49ers coach Bill Walsh campaigned for Wilson to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, even sending tapes of Wilson from the 1950s to the hall's veterans committee, which handles the voting.

"I don't control things like that." Wilson told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004 when asked about the hall of fame. "But I've had people tell me that I'm the most qualified player who's not in. A lot of people have pushed me in the last year or so."

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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