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Former 49ers DL, Hall of Famer Chris Doleman dies at age 58

Niners Wire logo Niners Wire 1/29/2020 Kyle Madson

Video by Sports Media Group

The NFL on Tuesday announced Hall of Fame defensive lineman Chris Doleman died at 58-years old after a battle with cancer.

He initially had a brain tumor removed in January of 2018, and continued fighting glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer after that initial surgery.

Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker released a statement:

“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Chris Doleman after a prolonged and courageous battle against cancer. I had the honor of getting to know him not only as a great football player but an outstanding human being. One of the honors of my life was witnessing Chris get baptized in the Jordan River during a Hall of Fame trip to Israel.

“The legacy of Chris Doleman will live forever in Canton, Ohio, for generations to learn from how he lived a life of courage and character.”

The Minnesota Vikings, the team that drafted Doleman out of Pittsburgh with the No. 4 overall pick in 1985, also released a statement after his death:

“The Minnesota Vikings express our deepest sympathies to Chris Doleman’s family and friends upon his passing,” the team said in a statement. “Chris was a great example for players past and present, as he embodied all the best characteristics of a Viking — resilience, toughness and a competitive spirit. Chris always carried himself with dignity and class. Vikings fans worldwide will greatly miss him.”

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Doleman quickly made an impact in his first two years with the Vikings, and started 22 of his first 32 games. His third season was when he broke out with 11.0 sacks and earned the first of eight Pro Bowl nods. Doleman was twice an All-Pro in 1989 and 1992, and made his eighth and final Pro Bowl as a 36-year-old with the 49ers in 1997. That year he posted 12.0 sacks.

Doleman finished his Hall of Fame career with 150.5 sacks, which currently ranks No. 5 on the all-time list. What’s even more impressive is that he had just 3.5 sacks in his first two seasons.

The 49ers initially became familiar with the dominant defensive end in 1987 season when the Vikings upset the 49ers in the divisional round as 11-point underdogs. Doleman had a pair of sacks in that game to spearhead their defensive effort.

San Francisco acquired a 35-year-old Doleman in 1996, and the signing paid off immediately. He posted 54 tackles, 11.0 sacks, forced four fumbles, recovered three, posted a career-high two interceptions, and scored a touchdown.

Across three seasons in red and gold, Doleman tallied 145 tackles, 38 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

Related slideshow: Notable sports deaths in 2020 (provided by imagn)

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