Kingsburg native, football Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson passes away

Johnson played for the San Francisco 49ers for 16 years after growing up in Kingsburg.

Former San Francisco 49ers great Jimmy Johnson passed away on Wednesday at the age of 86. 

Johnson, a Kingsburg native, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class in 1994. 


Early life: Johnson was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1938 and moved with his family to Kingsburg when he was young. 

  • After attending Kingsburg High School, he attended UCLA, where he competed in football and track. 
  • His older brother, Rafer Johnson, preceded him at UCLA. Rafer Johnson, also a product of Kingsburg High School, won the gold medal in Decathlon in the 1960 Olympic Games. 

Johnson’s career: Johnson was selected by the 49ers as the sixth overall pick in the 1961 NFL Draft. 

  • Over his 16-year career in the NFL, all with the 49ers, Johnson was named a First-team All-Pro for four seasons as a star cornerback. He also was named as a Second-Team All-Pro four times and made the Pro Bowl five times. 
  • He is also a member of the 49ers Hall of Fame and has his No. 37 retired by the team. 
  • Johnson logged 47 interceptions throughout his career, second in 49ers history only behind fellow Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott. 

What they’re saying: “Jimmy Johnson was extraordinarily athletically talented,” said Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement. “The 49ers enjoyed the luxury of using him on offense and defense early in his career to fill team needs. Once he settled in at left cornerback, he flourished. The notion that a ‘lockdown’ cornerback could cut the field in half for the opposition was true with Jimmy. Only rarely would other teams’ quarterbacks even look his direction, and more often than not regretted the decision if they challenged him.”

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