25 in 25: The Best 49ers from 1985 to 2009

I'll come clean right now, I've stolen this idea from a fanpost up on FederalBaseball.com (SB Nation's home to the Washington Nationals). The goal is to compile a roster of 25 players from the past 25 years. Since NFL rosters are much larger than MLB rosters, I'll simply choose 11 players on offense, 11 players on defense, 1 kicker, 1 punter and 1 return specialist (25). The catch is, I can only use one player from one season and cannot repeat any players, so certain guys might get bumped off the list (even though they may be deserving). It should be fun to come up with a list of your own, and I encourage fans of all teams to give it a try. On to my team.

1985: RB Roger Craig - 1050 Rushing yards, 9 Rush TDs; 96 receptions, 1016 yards, 6 TDs. Craig's season is one of the best of any running back in not just 49ers history, but NFL history. He was the first back to rush and receive for over 1000 yards. Unfortunately, this season bumps Frank Gore's 2006 from the team.

1986: FS Ronnie Lott - 77 tackles, 10 INTs, 3 FF, 2 sacks. Lott's best statistical season for the 49ers during his career, and he's easily the best defensive back in team history. In reality, any season from Lott's tenure with the 49ers would suffice.

1987: WR Jerry Rice - 65 receptions, 1078 yards, 22 TDs; 51 Rushing yards, 1 TD. If this isn't the most impressive season in NFL history for WRs, I don't know what is, it took Rice just 12 games to amount these totals. Yes, Randy Moss has broken the single season record for receiving TDs, but Rice account for 22 or Joe Montana's 31 pass TDs.

1988: PR John Taylor - 44 PR, 556 PR Yards, 2 TDs, 12.6 PR Avg. John Taylor won't make the list as the second WR, but he certainly gets on due to his excellent 1988 season returning punts. In Taylor's second season in the NFL, he was voted to the Pro Bowl thanks to his electric return skills.

1989: DE Pierce Holt - 48 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR. Holt played LDE in San Francisco 3-4 front and put up a career best 10.5 sacks in 1989. Holt mainly earns his way onto this teams thanks in large part to his 4 sack performance against the New York Giants.

1990: OLB Charles Haley - 58 tackles, 16 sacks, 3 FF, 1 FR. You take a look at Haley's stats from 1990 and try to find a better player to put on this team from this season. Dave Waymer and Brent Jones received strong consideration, but ultimately the Elephant gets the nod.

1991: LG Guy McIntyre - 16 GS, 1 FR. At the age of 30, McIntyre made his third consecutive Pro Bowl in '91 of which he made five straight with the San Francisco 49ers. The incredible and durable guard participated in 16 games, six straight seasons for the team from 1988-1993.

After the jump, the rest of the team...

1992: OLB Tim Harris - 64 tackles, 17 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR. This may be considered cheating, since Tim Harris replaced Charles Haley as the team's starting LOLB. However, due to the incredible season Harris produced, I figured his 17 sacks would be a fine exception.

1993: RT Harris Barton - 15 GS. Barton was not only a Pro Bowler this season, but was also elected to the All-Pro team. The career long 49er is probably the best RT in franchise history, a postion San Francisco has been desperately trying to fill in recent years.

1994: QB Steve Young - 3,969 Pass yards, 35 Pass TDs, 10 INTs; 293 Rush yards, 7 TDs. My apologies to Joe Montana, he just didn't quite beat out statistically performances the way Young did in 1994. Young was the NFL MVP and the Super Bowl MVP this season, and his 6 Pass TDs in the Super Bowl are unmatched.

1995: CB Eric Davis - 51 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 FF, 1 TD. Davis was an All-Pro selection in 1995, even though his stats may not jump out at you. Davis is one of three 49er defenders to make the All-Pro team this season, narrowly edging out Merton Hanks and Ken Norton Jr. to make this team.

1996: C Jesse Sapolu - 16 GS. This was Sapolu's final season as a starting OL for the 49ers; he spent 4 seasons as a starting LG and six as the starting C. The nod goes to Sapolu simply because all 13 of his NFL seasons were spent with the franchise and 8 times he started in all 16 games.

1997: DT Dana Stubblefield - 61 tackles, 15 sacks, 3 FF. The NFL's Defensive Player of the Year for 1997, Stubblefield had a career year, cashing in on a huge free agent contract with the Washington Redskins a year later. However, his season still stands as one of the best in franchise history from a DT.

1998: RG Kevin Gogan - 16 GS. I tried really hard to keep Chris Doleman off this team, and thanks to Kevin Gogan that was possible. Gogan played in just two seasons with the 49ers, but made the Pro Bowl in both years. Thank you mister Gogan for playing RG.

1999: DT Bryant Young - 41 tackles, 11 sacks, 1 Safety. In 1998, Bryant Young's career appeared to be in jeopardy after sufferring a horrific injury on Monday Night Football. Little could anyone guess that Young would appear in all 16 games the following season, while putting up 11 sacks and making the Pro Bowl.

2000: WR Terrell Owens - 97 receptions, 1451 yards, 13 TDs. The start of a new century marked the beginning of the monster that is known as T.O.. Despite missing two games due to suspension, Owens still racked up huge totals helping Jeff Garcia set a franchise record for passing yards in a season. T.O. also established himself as one of the game's premier WRs. And mouth piece.

2001: LT Derrick Deese - 16 GS, 1 FR. Deese was a rare specimen for the 49ers, he had legs as skinny as a chicken, but was able to hold down a starting OL position for 7 seasons. The 2001 49ers finished 12-4 and made what was quickly becoming a rare playoff appearance.

2002: FB Fred Beasley - 16 GS. Behind Beasley's lead-blocking in 2002, the 49ers totalled 2244 rushing yards while averaging 4.6 ypc. Beasley was rewarded with his efforts a year later being named to the 2003 Pro Bowl, but it's arguable he should've represented the NFC in 2002.

2003: SS Tony Parrish - 89 tackles, 9 INTs, 1 FF, 1 FR. Parrish had an incredible season with the 49ers in 2003, leading the NFL in interceptions. Under appreciated by the league, Parrish's efforts were not recognized in Pro Bowl or All-Pro form. Good thing I've got his back.

2004: P Andy Lee - 96 Punts, 3990 Yards, 41.6 Avg. Thank God for Andy Lee's rookie season being the lone bright spot in 2004 for the 2-14 49ers. Lee has gone on to have several better seasons, but I'm glad he gets me through this season without a hiccup.

2005: K Joe Nedney - 26 FGM, 28 FGA. Nedney is to 2005 what Lee was to 2004. If it weren't for these two special team pimps, we'd still see a struggling kicking and punting unit. One day, we'll all miss Joe Nedney.

2006: RCB Walt Harris - 63 tackles, 8 INTs, 1 sack, 4 FF, 2 FR. Are you kidding me Mike Nolan? You sign the 32-year old washed Harris to come in and start for the 2006 49ers? All he did was make the Pro Bowl while setting a career best mark at INTs with 8.

2007: MLB Patrick Willis - 174 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 FF, 1 FR. Hello there 2007 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Patrick Willis. Nice to meet you.

2008: DE Justin Smith - 73 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF. Sure Smith signed an inflated contract to join the 49ers, but all the team got in return was a relentless motor that would not quit. He may not put up big stats, but his hard work allows the playmakers to make plays.

2009: TE Vernon Davis - 78 receptions, 965 yards, 13 TDs. Like there was any debate. Peace Out Niners Nation.

Thanks to Pro-Football-Reference.com for making this relatively easy to put together, and thanks to Solanus for giving me such a great idea. I urge you all to better my list, and come up with 25 players over the past 25 years using the same guidelines.

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