November 10, 2011

MVP Profile: Joe Perry, 1954

Fullback, San Francisco 49ers

Age: 27
7th season in pro football & with 49ers, 5th in NFL
College: Compton Junior College
Height: 6’0” Weight: 210

Perry was a raw talent when he joined the 49ers, then of the AAFC, in 1948, having played just one season of high school football and two in junior college (one in which he scored 22 touchdowns) before military service prevented him from advancing to a major college program. He was discovered by the 49ers while playing for the Alameda Naval Air Station team and shared the fullback position with Norm Standlee as a rookie. An in-between runner who lacked inside power and outside finesse, his speed allowed him to lead the league in TDs (10) while averaging 7.3 yards per attempt on 77 carries (and earned him the nickname “The Jet”). In 1949, he became the starting fullback and led the AAFC with 783 yards, 6.8 yards per carry, and 8 TDs on the ground. He continued to perform well as the 49ers moved to the NFL, averaging 5.2 and 5.0 yards per carry in 1950 and ’51 and being used effectively on screen passes. In 1952, he was selected to the Pro Bowl and in ’53, led the league with 192 rushing attempts for 1018 yards and 10 TDs, as well as 1209 yards from scrimmage.

1954 Season Summary
Appeared in all 12 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 173 [1]
Most attempts, game - 23 (for 100 yds.) at Green Bay
Yards – 1049 [1]
Most yards, game – 137 yards (on 20 carries) vs. Green Bay
Average gain – 6.1 [3]
TDs – 8 [3, tied with Tank Younger, Tobin Rote & Otto Graham]
100-yard rushing games – 5

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 26
Yards – 203
Average gain – 7.8
TDs – 0

Pass attempts – 1
Pass completions – 1
Passing yards – 34
TD passes – 0
Interceptions – 0

Field goals – 1 [17, tied with Ralph Felton, Jim Martin & Bob Carey]
Field goal attempts – 3 [18]
Percentage – 33.3
PATs – 6 [16]
PAT attempts – 7 [16]
Longest field goal – 14 yards at LA Rams 10/3

TDs – 8 [8, tied with seven others]
Field Goals – 1
PATs – 6
Points – 57 [10]

All-purpose yards – 1252 [2]

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, UPI, NY Daily News, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

49ers went 7-4-1 to finish third in the Western Conference while leading the NFL in rushing (2498 yards).

After back-to-back thousand-yard seasons, Perry didn’t reach that level again but still gained over 700 yards twice and 600 on three occasions in San Francisco before being benched in 1960 as the team sought to retool with younger players. Traded to the Baltimore Colts in 1961, he ran for 675 yards and caught a career-high 34 passes at age 34. He lasted one more year with the Colts before returning to the 49ers as a backup in 1963, his last season. Perry became the NFL’s career rushing leader in 1958, but was surpassed by Jim Brown in ’63. He ended up rushing for 8378 yards in the NFL and 9723 overall while averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Perry's #34 was retired by the 49ers and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1969.


MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/12/14]