We're calling the #2 defensive end position relatively early as Cedrick Hardman was running away with 71% of the vote. Now that we've got a defensive line, I thought I would move over to the offensive line. We'll start with the anchor in the middle, the center. We all have ideas of who we consider the best center in 49ers history. The interesting thing with the offensive line is the lack of statistics for measuring "greatness." While there are statistics like pancakes, for the most part the only stats we might normally look at the production of the rushing game and how little (or often) the quarterback was sacked. Other than that, we just thing a guy is great because of what we saw.
One quick note: I was originally going to include Randy Cross here, but he actually spent more time as a guard. On those first couple of Super Bowl teams he was the starting right guard and his 3 Pro Bowl appearances came as a guard.
Jesse Sapolu (1983-1997): For those of us who came of age in the 80s and 90s, Jesse Sapolu was a rock on the 49ers offensive line. Sapolu spent 13 seasons with the 49ers and is one of six 49ers to win four Super Bowl rings. He earned two trips to the Pro Bowl late in his career in 1993 and 1994. Personally, I can't think of any 49ers who were quietly as popular as Sapolu. During the 49ers 80s/90s dynasty, the offensive line play was a key factor in the continued success. Having an anchor like Jesse Sapolu was essential for a quality offensive line.
Forrest Blue (1968-1974): A first round pick of the 49ers in 1968, Blue was named to 4 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1971-1974, as well as first team All-Pro in 1971 and 1972. Blue was just the second offensive lineman to be drafted by the 49ers in the first round.
Bruce Bosley (1956-1968): Bosley was originally drafted as a defensive end in the second round out of West Virginia. After being moved to left guard, he settled in at center in 1962, where he produced 3 Pro Bowl appearances and 1 All-Pro selection. Bosley was referred to as one of the most underrated centers of the '60s and was well respected around the league.
Jeremy Newberry (1999-2005): I've included Newberry based on a combination of his production and potential. Newberry was a 2-time Pro Bowler before micro-fracture surgery more or less ended his career with the 49ers. Newberry was always one of my favorite 49ers and if he had remained healthy, I think he would have legitimately challenged Sapolu and Blue as the best center in 49ers history.