As the San Francisco 49ers dynasty week continues on NFL Network today they will be revealing their Top 10 list of the greatest players to ever wear red and gold. And while that list is yet to be revealed, I have made a list of who I believe the top 10 players of all-time are. Tenure with the franchise is a huge factor for me in making this list, so I have to say sorry to CB Deion Sanders. So without further ado, the top 10 greatest 49ers of all-time are:
10. DT Bryant Young (1994-2007)
Analysis: Before ILB Patrick Willis there was a guy by the name of “BY.” One of my favorite 49ers of all-time, BY had an awesome career in San Francisco. Highly regarded by his peers and opposition for his soft-spoken yet mean-streak demeanor on the field, BY was one of the most underrated players during his time. In 14 seasons in San Francisco, Young recorded 605 tackles, 89.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. A four-time All-Pro, one-time NFL Comeback Player of the Year Winner and one-time Super Bowl champion, Young deserves to be on this list.
9. DE Charles Haley (1986-1991)
Analysis: The 49ers best pure-pass rusher during the glory days, Haley was not a beast but a monster down in the trenches as he recorded double digit sacks in four of his six seasons in San Francisco. In six seasons with the 49ers, Haley recorded 57.5 sacks while winning two Super Bowls.
8. WR Dwight Clark (1979-1987)
Analysis: Simply known as “The Catch” as he played a big role in making the greatest play in 49ers history, Clark’s magnificent leap-and-catch is still honored today. A great player and an even better person, Clark has been a valuable asset to the 49ers organization both on-and-off the field. A two-time Super Bowl winner while being a two-time All-Pro, Clark was the go-to-guy at the receiver position for many seasons. In nine seasons in San Francisco, Clark amassed 506 catches for 6,750 receiving yards, and 48 touchdowns, not bad for a 10th-round draft pick.
7. RB Roger Craig (1983-1990)
Analysis: The epitome of a West Coast running back, Craig was the engine that made Bill Walsh’s offense go. The first player in NFL history to rack up 1,000 yards, both rushing and receiving in the same season, Craig was an absolute baller! A one-time Offensive Player of the year, four-time Pro Bowler, and three-time Super Bowl Champion, that’s more than enough to warrant the No. 7 spot.
6. RB Frank Gore (2005-present)
Analysis: As I like to say, “You get more with Gore!” The player known as the “Inconvenient Truth” continues to be a fan favorite in San Francisco. The 49ers all-time leading rusher with 9,967 rushing yards, 60 touchdowns and five Pro Bowl appearances, Gore has been a pleasant surprise since entering the league as a third-round draft pick and will have his number 21 retired when it’s all said and done.
5. ILB Patrick Willis (2007-present)
Analysis: There is no question that Willis has been the heart and soul of the 49ers defense since entering the NFL. A true leader with the heart of a lion, people have recently overlooked him due to the exceptional play of ILB NaVorro Bowman. However, I can assure you that Willis will have a career best-season in 2014 as he will once again return to his All-Pro form. In seven seasons thus far, Willis has recorded 916 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 7 interceptions, 50 pass break-ups, 16 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. Not to mention being a six-time first-team All-Pro, Willis deserves this top five spot.
4. QB Steve Young (1987-1999)
Analysis: It wasn’t all fine and dandy at first but once Young cemented himself as the starter he did not disappoint. In 13 seasons as the signal caller for the Niners, Young completed 2,400 of 3,648 passes for 29,907 yards, 221 touchdowns and 86 interceptions. A one-time Super Bowl winner, Super Bowl MVP, three-time first-team All-Pro, and two-time NFL MVP, Young’s resume is quite impressive.
3. DB Ronnie Lott (1981-1990)
Analysis: The greatest defensive back to ever play the game, Lott had a rare blend of vicious hitting combined with elite ball-skills. The former USC product was often overlooked having played defense on a team that was highly regarded for their offensive prowess, Lott’s presence was a thing of beauty. In 10 seasons in San Francisco, Lott recorded 51 interceptions while being the leader of the secondary. An eight-time first-team All-Pro, and four-time Super Bowl winner, Lott was nothing short of the best to ever play the game at the defensive back position.
2. QB Joe Montana (1979-1992)
Analysis: The greatest quarterback to ever play the game, Montana was the best then and the best now. A three-time first-team All-Pro, four-time Super Bowl Champion, three-time Super Bowl MVP, and two-time NFL MVP, what more can you say?
1. WR Jerry Rice (1985-2000)
Analysis: Ranked No. 1 on NFL Network’s greatest players of All-Time, I have to agree. The greatest NFL player to ever play the game, Rice was a once in a century type of player. A 10-time first team All-Pro, three-time NFC Offensive Player of the Year, two-time AP Offensive Player of the Year, 13-time Pro Bowl, three-time Super Bowl champion, and Super Bowl MVP, Rice was one of a kind. In 16 seasons in San Francisco, Rice racked up 1,281 catches for 19,247 receiving yards and 176 touchdowns.