EDITOR'S NOTE 7/29 7:40: We've got a decent number of votes but it's close enough that I thought I'd bump it to the top again. If you haven't voted yet, take a few seconds to pick the #1 all-time OLB for the 49ers. We'll get the backup soon thereafter.
Just because training camp begins today does NOT mean we will be suspending the voting for our 49ers all-time team. We'll have continuous updates on training camp, but that doesn't mean we can't continue forming our team. Speaking of which, congratulations to Roger Craig who rolled to victory with 71% of the vote. Frank Gore finished second with 14% of the vote and I wouldn't be surprised if he passed Craig in voting after his career is done (or even within four or five years).
We now move back to the defense and some of the tough guys, the linebackers. As previously mentioned, rather than go with a 4-3 or 3-4, we decided to go 4-4 to fit the one extra DL and one extra LB. It means 12 men on the field but thankfully there are no refs around to blow the whistle.
The 49ers have had some very impressive linebackers in their history. We know many of the big names from the 80s and 90s, but the 49ers history is packed with quality outside linebackers bringing it every game.
Dave Wilcox (1964-1974): Wilcox is an NFL Hall of Fame linebacker, inducted in 2000. In 11 seasons with the 49ers, Wilcox was named to 7 Pro Bowls and was a 5-time All-NFL player. While I missed out on seeing him play, his Hall of Fame site calls him out as one of the finest linebackers of his era, particularly when it came to jamming the tight end off the line. One of his finest seasons came in 1973 when he recorded 104 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, two interceptions and 13 tackles for a loss. Coaches gave him the nickname "The Intimidator."
Charles Haley (1986-1991, 1998-1999): As much as it stinks that he went to Dallas, Charles Haley was a key part of the back-to-back Super Bowl squads in 1988 and 1989. Also, in going to Dallas, Haley became the only player in NFL history to win 5 Super Bowls. Although things ended tumultuously for him in San Francisco, he took care of business while he was here. Over eight seasons in San Francisco, Haley went to three Pro Bowls, was once a 1st-team All Pro and currently stands fourth in franchise history with 66.5 sacks. He switched to defensive end when he went to Dallas, but as a pass rushing outside linebacker in San Francisco, he was an absolute beast.
Keena Turner (1980-1990): Turner spent 11 seasons with the 49ers serving as a standout linebacker on four Super Bowl teams. Turner's finest season came on the dominant 1984 defense that led the league in points allowed at 14.2 per game. Turner earned a trip to the Pro Bowl behind 4 interceptions, two sacks and general leadership abilities. Since retiring, Turner has remained active in the Bay Area, including doing television work for the 49ers preseason broadcasts This past January, Turner was named 49ers Vice President of Football Affairs. The position deals with all aspects of player well being, including counseling and player development programs.
Julian Peterson (2000-2005): Consider this a combination of what he did and what he could have been. I realize this is about production, but I'll always have a soft spot for Julian Peterson. He made a national name for himself when he shut down Tony Gonzalez in 2002, holding the all-world tight end to 1 reception for 6 yards.. Before injuring his achilles tendon (leading to his eventual departure), Peterson was an absolute freak of nature for hte 49ers. How many outside linebackers can capably play linebacker, defensive end, cornerback AND safety? Now, I'm not planning on voting for him but I think he earned a spot on the ballot nonetheless.