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San Francisco 49ers Top Players To Wear Jersey Numbers 1-50

The San Francisco 49ers have had many players come through the organization. Some are even considered the greatest of all time. The jersey they wore was worn with pride for the team and the city. However, some players represented the numbers on their jerseys better than others. The following explores the best player for each jersey number. This week will focus on 1-50 and next week will deal with 51-99.

* retired number

+ Hall of Fame player

  1. Gary Anderson, K – He only played one year for San Francisco but he left a lasting mark. He made 29 of 36 field goals for 80.6%. His longest field goal was 51 yards.
  2. David Akers, K – In his first year in San Francisco, he set an NFL record for points in a season. He also went made 44 of 52 field goal attempts. His longest field goal was 55 yards in 2011. He tied an NFL record in 2012 with a 63-yard field goal.
  3. C.J. Beathard, QB – Over the course of two seasons, he has completed 57.3% of his passes. He has thrown for 2,682 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career.
  4. Andy Lee, P – The three-time Pro Bowl selection averaged 46.6 yards per punt for his career. His longest punt was 82 yards.
  5. Jeff Garcia, QB – He was invited to three Pro Bowls during his time with the 49ers. He also led the team to two playoff appearances. His best season with the team was in 2000 when he threw for 4,278 yards and 32 touchdowns.
  6. Joe Nedney, K – The local product was one of the most effective kickers in franchise history. He made 92.9% of his field goal attempts in his first year with the team in 2005. He remained above 80% the rest of his career.
  7. Colin Kaepernick, QB – He had an exhilarating first season as the 49ers starter. He led the team to the Super Bowl where they lost a thriller to the Baltimore Ravens. He led the team to the NFC Championship Game the following year. In the midst of these two years, he introduced the league to the pistol offense as well as the concept of the option quarterback.
  8. *+ Steve Young, QB – He was given the daunting task of replacing the legendary Joe Montana who had won four Super Bowls. Young won two league MVPs and a Super Bowl while making a strong case for being considered the greatest left-handed quarterback in league history.
  9. Phil Dawson, K – He was a very reliable kicker. His best seasons were 2013 and 2015 when he connected on 88.9% of his field goal attempts.
  10. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB – He has only started a handful of games for the team but is already considered the franchise quarterback. He has thrown 12 touchdowns and won six games in his eight starts with the team.
  11. Alex Smith, QB – He was the first overall pick in the 2005 draft and battled through much adversity before finally leading the team to the playoffs in 2011. Starting in 2010 he has completed more than 60% of his passes, including 70.2% in 2011. He led the team to the NFC Championship Game in 2011 where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.
  12. *John Brodie, QB – The 1970 NFL MVP replaced the legendary Y.A. Tittle with little fanfare but when he retired he had won over the hearts of the 49er Faithful. He spent his entire 17-year career with the 49ers. He finished his career with 31,548 passing yards and 214 touchdown passes.
  13. Frankie Albert, QB – He only wore #13 in 1952, his last year, but he was the franchise’s first premier quarterback. He threw for 964 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 1952. For his career, including the years in the AAFC, he threw for 10,795 yards and 115 touchdowns while completing 53.1% of his passes.
  14. Y.A. Tittle, QB – He was the head of the Million Dollar Backfield and is the franchise’s first quarterback who is in the franchise’s Hall of Fame. His finest season with the 49ers was in 1957 when he completed 63.1% of his passes for 2,157 yards and 13 touchdowns. He went to four Pro Bowls during his time with the franchise.
  15. Michael Crabtree, WR – He was drafted with the hope that he would give the franchise a big play receiver. He did not disappoint despite playing with a rotating carousel of quarterbacks. His best season was in 2012 when he had 1,105 receiving yards and nine touchdown receptions.
  16. *+ Joe Montana, QB – Arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, he led the franchise out of the lost depths of the NFL and into glory. Along the way, he developed the West Coast Offense while winning four Super Bowls and earning two league MVPs. His finest season was 1989 when he completed a then-NFL record 70.2% of his passes for 3,521 yards and 26 touchdowns in an MVP performance.
  17. Steve DeBerg, QB – He was coach Bill Walsh’s first quarterback in San Francisco and witnessed the beginnings of a dynasty. His best season was 1979 when he threw a league record 578 passes for 3,652 yards and 17 touchdowns.
  18. Gene Washington, WR – He was a key component of the 49ers offense in the early 1970s when they were competing for their first Super Bowl appearance. His best year was in 1970 when he received 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns.
  19. Ted Ginn, WR/PR/KR – He was primarily used as a punt and kick returner. His most enduring moment was in 2011 when he returned a punt and a kickoff for game-sealing touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks.
  20. Garrison Hearst, HB – When healthy, he provided the team with consistency at running back. He was invited to two Pro Bowls while collecting three 1,000-yard seasons. His best season was in 1998 when he ran for 1,570 yards and seven touchdowns.
  21. Frank Gore, HB – He holds franchise records for yards rushing and rushing touchdowns. He is currently in the top five all-time for rushing yards in the NFL. His best season was 2006 when he rushed for 1,695 yards and eight touchdowns.
  22. Dwight Hicks, FS – The free safety helped change the culture of the 49ers franchise. His best year was in 1981 when he finished the season with nine interceptions. He was invited to four Pro Bowls in his career.
  23. Marquez Pope, CB – The cornerback may be forgotten for the average fan but he had an impact for some playoff teams in the middle of the 1990s. His best season was 1996 when he intercepted six passes.
  24. J.D. Smith, HB – The running back took over when the Million Dollar Backfield dispersed. His best season was 1959 when he ran for 1,036 yards and 10 touchdowns.
  25. Eric Davis, CB – The cornerback was a part of a talented secondary which helped deliver the 49ers their fifth Super Bowl title. He was invited to one Pro Bowl during his time with the 49ers. His best year was 1993 when he had four interceptions.
  1. Wendell Tyler, HB – Before he arrived in San Francisco the team did not have much of a running game. When the 49ers traded for him, he changed the expectations of the 49ers run game. His best season was in 1984 when he ran for 1,262 yards and seven touchdowns.
  2. Carlton Williamson, SS – He was a part of a deep draft class and brought instant playmaking ability to the 49ers secondary. He was invited to two Pro Bowls in his career. His two best seasons were 1981 and 1983 when he had four interceptions in each season.
  3. Carlos Hyde, HB – He took over for the departed Frank Gore and did not disappoint. His best season was in 2016 when he ran for 988 yards and six touchdowns.
  4. Don Griffin, CB – He was drafted during the height of the 49ers dynasty of the 1980s. His best season was 1987 when he intercepted five passes.
  5. Bernie Casey, HB – He provided the team with consistent running through the 1960s. His best season was 1962 when he rushed for 819 yards and six touchdowns.
  6. Donte Whitner, SS – Between 2011 and 2013 the 49ers had one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL. Whitner was a key component of that defense while being invited to a Pro Bowl in 2012.
  7. Mel Phillips, SS – He was an athletic presence in the secondary during the championship caliber years of the early 1970s and the lean years before and after. His most productive season was 1970 when he recorded three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
  8. Roger Craig, HB – Arguably the most diverse running back in franchise history. He was invited to four Pro Bowls and was the perfect running back for the West Coast Offense. His best season was 1985 when he became the first running back to run and receive over 1,000 yards.
  9. *+ Joe Perry, HB – Joe “The Jet” Perry was a member of the famed Million Dollar Backfield and briefly held the NFL record for most rushing yards in a career. He was the first great running back for the franchise and earned his place in the Hall of Fame through speed and big playmaking ability. His best season was in 1954 when he rushed for 1,049 yards at an astronomical 6.1 yards per carry.
  10. + John Henry Johnson, FB – The third player on this list who was a member of the Million Dollar Backfield, he only played three years for the 49ers but left an impressionable mark on his opponents. His bruising running style added physicality to the otherwise flashy style of play the 49ers had at the time. His best season with the 49ers was his first season, 1954, when he ran for 681 yards and nine touchdowns.
  11. Merton Hanks, FS – He added swagger to the 49ers secondary and helped the team win the Super Bowl in 1994. He made four Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro in that Super Bowl season. His best season was 1994 when he intercepted seven passes.
  12. * Jimmy Johnson, CB – He played 16 seasons in San Francisco and made five Pro Bowls. His best season was 1965 when he intercepted six passes.
  13. Dashon Goldson, FS – He was a great physical presence in the secondary and receivers dreaded crossing his path. He made two Pro Bowls and was in his prime in 2011 when he intercepted six passes.
  14. *+ Hugh Mcelhenny, HB – The fourth member of the Million Dollar Backfield to make this list, he bobbed and weaved his way into the Hall of Fame. His running style was a perfect blend of smoothness and speed. Despite low numbers in his final seasons with other franchises, he still finished his career with a remarkable 4.7 yards per carry.
  15. Ken Willard, HB – He provided the franchise with steady running during the lean years of the 1960s. His best season was 1968 when he rushed for 967 yards and seven touchdowns.
  16. Antoine Bethea, SS – He joined the team when it started to transition out of the Jim Harbaugh era and proved to be a trustworthy player in the midst of the turmoil. His best season was 2014 when he was invited to the Pro Bowl and recorded four interceptions.
  17. *+ Ronnie Lott, CB/FS – He made the Pro Bowl as a cornerback and both safety positions (he played strong safety with the Los Angeles Raiders). He was a menace in the secondary and played with a rare tenacity. He famously had the tip of his pinky amputated so that he could continue to play at a high level. He entered the league on fire with seven interceptions and scoring three touchdowns. His best season was 1986 when he picked off 10 passes and scored one touchdown.
  18. Dave Waymer, FS/SS – He only played two seasons for the team but he was an interception machine. He picked off 11 passes between 1990 and 1991.
  19. Tom Rathman, FB – He ran with a bruising style and truly brought physicality to a famously finesse offense. He ran for a respectable 3.7 yards per carry and 26 touchdowns during his career.
  20. Elbert Kimbrough, DB – He was a solid presence in the secondary during the 1960s. His best season was 1966 when he intercepted three passes.
  21. Tim McDonald, SS – He was a part of a talented secondary which helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 1994. During his time in San Francisco, he was invited to three Pro Bowls. His best season with the team was 1993 when he picked off four passes and scored two touchdowns.
  22. Elijah Lee, OLB – He has only played two seasons for the franchise and is slowly starting to get playing time. He has two forced fumbles and a sack for his career.
  23. Fred Warner, OLB – He was a hidden gem in the 2018 NFL Draft and showed his value since the very beginning. He started every game of his rookie season and provided stability in the midst of an injury-plagued defensive unit. He recorded 124 tackles, six pass deflections and one fumble recovery in his rookie campaign.
  24. Jeff Fuller, SS – He had a promising career when it was tragically taken away. He made an awkward tackle against the New England Patriots in 1989 and lost the use of his right arm. Before the injury, he was an athletic presence in the secondary. His most productive seasons were 1986 and 1988 when he recorded four interceptions in each season.
  25. Riki Ellison, LB – During the course of the 49ers dynasty of the 1980’s the linebackers were generally overlooked. They were a reliable group who rarely gathered the accolades of the more accomplished stars. Ellison’s best season was 1984 when he recorded two sacks.
David Hegler

Author David Hegler

BS in Business Management from Azusa Pacific University. Fanatical 49er fan. Avid fan of all Bay Area sports teams.

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