First off, I've decided to go with a 3-4 defense. Instead of picking a "nose tackle," we'll vote on one defensive tackle and then we'll have a vote on a second defensive tackle. So kind of going with my 4-4 idea, but not 100%.
Second off, I'm done with finals and done with year 1 of law school. Suffice to say, I could not be happier. I'm working on some internship options for the summer, but without studying taking up time I'm hoping to be extra active over the summer. It'll be a slow time until training camp starts, but we've got some cool stuff coming down the pipeline.
So now, for today we're going to open up the polls for the first cornerback on our all-time team. The 49ers have had some impressive defensive backs in their history, from Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson to current stalwart Nate Clements. In my research, I noticed that prior to the more well known 80s and 90s 49ers, many of the great corners in franchise history stretch back to the beginning of the franchise. Also, I know that one issue to come up has involved Deion Sanders. He only spent one season in San Francisco but he was the Defensive Player of the Year and that may have been his greatest year, in a career filled with amazing numbers. The way I've decided to handle it is while I will NOT be including him in this vote, he will be included in the vote for the #2 cornerback. That way he can get recognition, but it's my own personal belief that the overall career with the 49ers has more value and thus he should be penalized in some way. People may disagree, but I think it's a fair compromise. On to the nominees. There are some that could have probably been included, but I think we have a solid list of guys here. And like I said, Prime Time will be added for the #2 list.
Jimmy Johnson (1961-1976): Aside from one year as a wide receiver, Johnson played in five Pro Bowls over his 16 year Hall-of-Fame career and is #2 to Ronnie Lott in interceptions. Johnson is recognized as one of the best man-to-man defenders in NFL history and definitely was the precursor to Deion and Champ in shutting down his entire side of the field. He spent time at safety and wide receiver, but is primarily remembered as a cornerback, and a great one at that.
Kermit Alexander (1963-1969): Alexander spent seven seasons with the 49ers amassing an impressive 36 interceptions, a rate of just over 5 per season. As impressive is that he came out of college as a running back and was the outstanding offensive player at the Hula Bowl. Mix in some quality kick and punt return stats and you've got one heck of a player. Also, just noticed he recovered 23 fumbles in his career. Nothing on Johnson for that, but Alexander is the franchise leader there by a safe margin.
Lowell Wagner (1949-1953): Wagner was with the team in its last year in the All-America Football Conference and then the first four years in the NFL. Although the team struggled a bit early on, Wagner was a highlight, snagging 31 interceptions in just five full season with the team.
Eric Wright (1981-1990): No vote would be complete without Wright. While not a ball hawk like some of these other guys (7 of his 18 career INTs came in a single season), Wright was a very solid corner who is on the short list of 4-time Super Bowl winners.
Don Griffin (1986-1993): I'll be honest, I don't remember a whole heck of a lot about Griffin. He is 9th on the 49ers INT list and was the successor to Eric Wright at right CB, and a fitting successor he ended up being.