Dave Wilcox, a Hall of Fame linebacker who made the Pro Bowl seven times in his 11 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, died on Wednesday. He was 80.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, announced the death but did not say where he died or cite a cause, although it said he had recently suffered heart surgery.
Jim Porter, the president of the Hall of Fame, said in a statement that Wilcox “transformed the outside linebacker position — one of the many feats that earned him a forever home in Canton.”
Wilcox was drafted in 1964 by both the 49ers of the National Football League and the Houston Oilers of the American Football League. He signed with San Francisco and went on to become one of the game’s best and most durable linebackers.
He was known for his physical style, which neutralized tight ends at the line of scrimmage. But he was also accomplished in coverage, and had 14 career interceptions. In recognition of his aggressive play, he was widely known as “the Intimidator.”
The longtime San Francisco quarterback John Brodie, who played with Wilcox for 10 seasons, was quoted by the Hall of Fame as saying that Wilcox was “the best outside linebacker that has ever played the game — by a long way.”
Wilcox, who missed only one game in his 11-year career, was a first-team All-Pro selection in 1971 and 1972 and a second-team selection in 1967.
He was a key part of the defense that helped the 49ers reach the National Football Conference title game in 1970 and 1971. San Francisco lost to Dallas both times.
David Wilcox was born on Sept. 29, 1942, in Ontario, Ore., and began his college career at Boise Junior College (now Boise State University) in Idaho before transferring to the University of Oregon.
He was induced into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
His survivors include his wife, Merle, and his sons, Justin, the head football coach at the University of California, Berkeley, and Joshua.
The New York Times contributed reporting.