The all-time 49ers-only Top 10 list

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The all-time 49ers-only Top 10 list

The question came in via Twitter last week around the time the Hall of Fame voting was the topic of conversation among 49ers fans:Who do you think is the best player to ever play his whole career in a 49er uniform? (@Kevnkate)It's a great topic. And it's one that, obviously, precludes the great 49ers who played for other franchises, such as Joe Montana (Chiefs), Jerry Rice (Raiders, Seahawks), Ronnie Lott (Raiders, Jets), Steve Young (Buccaneers), Roger Craig (Raiders, Vikings), Joe "The Jet" Perry (Colts), Hugh McElhenny (Vikings, Giants, Lions) and Y.A. Tittle (Giants).
It's impossible to compare players from different eras because the game has changed so much. But in cobbling together the list, particular weight is given to ex-49ers enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Current players were not considered.So here is my highly debatable ranking of the top 49ers to play their entire careers with the 49ers:Who is in your 49ers-Only Top 10?
1. DT Leo Nomellini: He was the 49ers' first draft choice after joining the NFL, and he played every game for 14 seasons. He earned 10 trips to the Pro Bowl, and was a six-time first-team All-Pro -- two years on offense and four years on defense. He was a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer, inducted in 1969.2. CB Jimmy Johnson: Recognized as one of the best man coverage corners of his time, opposing quarterbacks were reluctant to throw his way. Still, he recorded 47 interceptions in his career. He was named All-Pro four consecutive seasons from 1969 through 1972. He played in three Pro Bowls and missed two others because of injuries. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.3. T Bob St. Clair: The San Francisco native was named first- or second-team All-NFL nine times in his career and was selected to play in five Pro Bowls. He had uncommon size and speed during the time in which he played. And, yes, it's true that he still eats raw meat. In 1956, he blocked 10 field goals, and once lost five teeth while blocking a punt. Injuries cut short his career. He played 11 seasons, ending in 1963. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.4. LB Dave Wilcox: Twenty-six years after his career concluded, Wilcox was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000 through the Seniors Committee. Nicknamed "The Intimidator" because of his fierce style of play, Wilcox was named to the All-NFL first- or second-team eight times in his career. He chosen to play in seven Pro Bowls.5. DT Bryant Young: The first word that jumps to mind when thinking about Young is "class." He played 14 seasons for the 49ers, and always acted in a truly professional manner through the good and the bad seasons. He started every game he appeared throughout his career, beginning with the Super Bowl-winning year of 1994. Next year, he'll join a class of first-time eligible Hall of Famers that includes Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan. It'll be difficult. He was selected to four Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro once in his career. Since 1982, when it became an official NFL statistic, Young leads the 49ers with 89.5 sacks. He is currently defensive line coach at the University of Florida. 6. WR Dwight Clark: He did a lot more than come down with "The Catch." He had five consecutive seasons from 1980 to '84 with 840 or more yards receiving. That streak ended in 1985, a season in which he caught a career-high 10 touchdown passes.7. TE Brent Jones: He was selected to the Pro Bowl four times in his 11-year career and was a staple of the league's best offense from the late 1980s through most of the 1990s. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the fifth round of the 1986 draft, but he only played regular-season games with the 49ers.8. WR John Taylor: He twice eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving and he was named to two Pro Bowl teams despite playing his career in Jerry Rice's shadow. Of course, he had one of the big catches in team history with a 10-yard reception from Joe Montana in the closing minute to win Super Bowl XXIII against the Cincinnati Bengals.9. GC Randy Cross: He started 180 games for the 49ers at center and guard from 1976 through 1988. He was named to the Pro Bowl three times in his career, and excelled on three Super Bowl lines.10. QB John Brodie: His stats do not translate very well to today's game, in which there's a premium on completion percentage, touchdowninterception margin and passer rating. But for longevity, Brodie can't be topped. He entered the league with the 49ers in 1957 and he was with the team through the 1973 season. His 17 seasons with the 49ers is a club record.Honorable mention
T Harris Barton (1987-96)
DT Michael Carter (1984-92)
PK Tommy Davis (1959-69)
T Keith Fahnhorst (1974-87)
C Bill Johnson (1948-56)
DT Charlie Krueger (1959-73)
LB Frank Nunley (1967-76)
C Fred Quillan (1978-87)
T Len Rohde (1960-74)
G Jesse Sapolu (1983-97)
WRK Gordy Soltau (1950-58)
CB Bruce Taylor (1970-77)
LB Keena Turner (1980-90)
WR Billy Wilson (1951-60)
CB Eric Wright (1981-90)

49ers: Solomon Thomas capable of playing anywhere on D-line

49ers: Solomon Thomas capable of playing anywhere on D-line

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected defensive linemen with their top picks in the final two drafts under general manager Trent Baalke.

The 49ers fired Baalke at the conclusion of the team’s 2-14 season, and new general manager John Lynch stepped into a tear-down project.

That complete rebuild began Thursday evening with Lynch’s selection of another defensive lineman. The 49ers traded back one spot and selected Solomon Thomas of Stanford with the No. 3 overall pick.

“We see a special football player, disruptive football player, who has tremendous versatility,” Lynch said. “I think he fits in with the current group that we have because he’s a little different than the guys we have. And when I think of Solomon, I think of speed and quickness and disruption.”

The 49ers expect to play more of an aggressive, attacking style of defense under first-year coordinator Robert Saleh. Perhaps, the team’s biggest need is at the “Leo” position, the weak side end that is considered more of a pass-rusher.

Thomas appears better-suited at the other end or at a defensive tackle position, but the 49ers are keeping an open mind about using him at nearly every spot along the defensive line in the team’s new 4-3 scheme.

“There are four defensive linemen and what’s intriguing about Solomon is he has the ability to play all four of them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s what makes him so unique. That’s why I think John says he’s a little bit different than some of the guys we have, because you can move him around. He has the quickness and speed to play on the outside. He has enough sides to play on the inside, so you don’t want to put him in one spot.

“We don’t think he has to be one specific role. Obviously, he is a defensive lineman, but there’s four spots he can play at and I think that’s going to depend on down and distance, whether we’re expecting run, whether we’re expecting pass and the type of personnel we’re going against.”

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers began Thursday with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

When his first day as 49ers general manager reached its conclusion, John Lynch had selected two of the three top players on his draft board and picked up additional third-round picks for this year and next year.

After Myles Garrett, the 49ers’ top-rated prospect, was the Cleveland Browns’ selection at No. 1 overall, the 49ers traded back one spot with the Chicago Bears. The 49ers still got their No. 2-rated prospect, Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

The 49ers started making calls to teams with selections in the teens, according to coach Kyle Shanahan, to inquire about trading up for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. The 49ers finally worked out a deal with the Seattle Seahawks to move up three spots to No. 31.

The 49ers selected Foster one spot ahead of the New Orleans Saints, who were apparently ready to select Foster with the No. 32 pick.

Said Lynch, "Reuben thought that because we were at 34, we made a trade at the end with Seattle and when I was talking to him, he said, ‘Coach, New Orleans is taking me.' And I said, ‘No, we’re taking you.’ It was hard because it happened late in the process and so, he was really excited when he found out that we had pulled off that trade and we were certainly very excited.”

And all the 49ers gave up to make the necessary move was a fourth-round pick acquired from the Bears earlier in the day.

The 49ers got everything the could have ever wanted from Day 1 of the draft.

“In terms of how we rated them, we got two of our top three players,” Lynch said. “We’re thrilled. We’re ecstatic. I think these guys have traits that encompass what we want to be about as a football organization.”

Lynch said he began speaking with Bears general manager Ryan Pace more than a week ago. Because the 49ers had picks scheduled next to the Bears in every round, Pace suggested to Lynch that the two teams should be willing to work with each other throughout the draft.

The 49ers had other offers for the No. 2 pick, Lynch said. A source told NBC Sports Bay Area just prior to the start of the draft that the 49ers had fielded three solid offers.

The team’s chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe worked out the details to finalize the trade with the Bears.

The 49ers did not know which player the Bears were targeting at No. 2, but Shanahan voiced his opinion while the trade was going down.

“This guy is a pretty bright,” Lynch said of Shanahan. “He said, ‘That’s not for a defensive lineman. That’s for a quarterback.’ And he was right.”

The Bears made the trade to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick. In order for the Bears to trade up one spot, they delivered the 49ers a third-round pick (No. 67), a fourth-round pick (No. 111) and a third-round pick next year.

Jacksonville executive Tom Coughlin, whose team held the No. 4 pick, watched and admired the 49ers' move from afar. 

"To get what you had in mind right off the bat and pick up those extra picks? Pretty nice deal," Coughlin told Jacksonville reporters. "I’ve never seen one of those. . . Oh, my gosh. Nothing like that has ever come my way.”

When asked if the 49ers would have selected Foster if the Bears selected Thomas, Lynch said, “Perhaps. It was very likely.”

Instead, the 49ers waited and waited and waited before finding a trade partner in an unlikely place. The 49ers made a deal with Seattle, giving up the 111th pick obtained from Chicago, to select Foster before the Saints had a chance.

“He’s my kind of player,” Lynch said of Foster. “He plays sideline to sideline, and he’ll hit anything that moves. I think that’s contagious for teammates.”

Foster is recovering from shoulder surgery and his stock was negatively affected by character concerns. He was sent home from the NFL scouting combine after an argument with a hospital worker during his medical check. He also had a positive drug test due to a diluted urine sample.

Lynch spent a lot of time with Foster during his visit to Santa Clara, as well as a meeting him at the combine. Both Lynch and Shanahan spoke regularly with Foster on the phone and on FaceTime in the past few weeks.

The 49ers also dispatched vice president of football affairs Keena Turner and team chaplain Earl Smith to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to meet with Foster for two days. The team will have a plan in place to help guide Foster as he transitions to professional football, Lynch said.

“I would tell you that his character is what drew us to him,” Lynch said. “When you start talking football with this young man, he lights up a room. He’s a good kid. I believe in the kid. I think he’ll be a great player for this organization for a long time.”