49ers Blog and Q&A

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

June 4, 2011
'Million-dollar' runner, John Henry Johnson, passes away

John Henry Johnson, a member of the 49ers' famed "Million Dollar Backfield" passed away on Friday at age 81. The news was first reported in Saturday's Mercury News.


Johnson, an East Bay native, was drafted by the Steelers in 1953, but his success came later with the 49ers where he joined a backfield that included Joe "The Jet" Perry, Hugh McElhenny and quarterback Y.A. Tittle.

Johnson, the fullback for that group, rushed for 6,803 yards, scored 48 touchdowns and was elected to four Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. Perry passed away in April at age 84. The 49ers will wear a No. 34 decal on their helmets this season to commemorate Perry.

-- 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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