George Donnelly
No. 20
Born:(1942-09-04)September 4, 1942
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died:November 22, 2022(2022-11-22) (aged 80)
Career information
Position(s)Defensive back
Height6 ft 4 in (193 cm)
Weight220 lb (100 kg)
High schoolDeKalb
AFL draft1965 / Round: 4 / Pick: 25
Drafted byDenver Broncos[1]
NFL draft1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 13
Drafted bySan Francisco 49ers[2]
Career history
As player
1965–1967San Francisco 49ers
Career highlights and awards

George Donnelly (September 4, 1942 – November 22, 2022) was an American football player who played defensive back for three seasons for the San Francisco 49ers.[3] At the University of Illinois, he and Dick Butkus were co-captains for the 1963 season, and Donnelly tied the NCAA record of 8 interceptions in one season.

Illinois played in the 50th Rose Bowl Game on January 1, 1964, against the Washington Huskies. Donnelly had two interceptions in this game, both setting up Illini touchdowns. The first came in the third quarter, allowing Illinois to score their first touchdown of the game. Then in the fourth quarter, with Illinois up by a score of 10-7, Washington was driving downfield, trying to score a go-ahead and possible game-winning touchdown, but Donnelly intercepted the ball on the 4-yard line and ran it back to the 15. This game-saving interception allowed Illinois to capitalize on that momentum and move the ball 85 yards, scoring their second touchdown of the game to put Illinois ahead 17-7.

Donnelly spent his years at the University of Illinois living in the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity House with 6 of his teammates; Doug Mills, David Cade, Robert Cravens, David Mueller, Bill Sullivan, and David Crouse.

Donnelly died on November 22, 2022, at the age of 80.[4]


  1. ^ "1965 AFL Draft". Archived from the original on February 25, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  2. ^ "1965 San Francisco 49ers". Archived from the original on September 17, 2006. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  3. ^ "George Donnelly Stats".
  4. ^ "George Donnelly Obituary".