Last week I announced that we would have several automatic entrants in our all-time team voting. One of the most prominent such automatic entrants is wide receiver Jerry Rice. Although Don Hutson sometimes creeps into the greatest wide receiver discussion, Jerry Rice has at the very least established himself as the greatest receiver of the modern NFL.
Today, we'll move on to the number two wide receiver in 49ers history. There have been some questions about the role of the number two receiver. Some people vote on this as the second best receiver in 49ers history, while others vote on this as the best complementary receiver to Jerry Rice. Although people can vote as they wish, I view this position as the second best receiver in 49ers history. We could create a complementary team, but sticking the two best wide receivers in franchise history on the team could probably do ok for itself.
In putting together this list, we are likely leaving out some old time greats, as well some more recent greats in 49ers history. For example, as smileyman pointed out to me in a conversation we had, what about a guy like Alyn Beals? He played six seasons for the 49ers from 1946-1951 and put up 500+ receiving yards and double digit touchdowns in each of the first four seasons. Nowadays that wouldn't count for much, but back in the 40s, those were some impressive numbers.
As a compromise for some of the older guys in 49ers history, we'll have some stand-alone features. The idea behind this all-time series it to create the team, but also to broaden our knowledge of the 49ers to a certain extent.
Terrell Owens (1996-2003): Last week we had a discussion about TO's Hall of Fame chances. The stats and natural ability have never been in question. He ranks highly among the all-time greats in various categories, which of course puts him right behind Jerry Rice in 49ers history. He's #2 in franchise history in receptions, yards and touchdowns and made one of the more well known catches in team history against the Packers in the playoffs. He had some early issues with drops, but seemed to overcome that as he developed. He busted his ass to stay in peak physical condition and he was a ferocious blocker.
While plenty have their own issues with TO as a teammate, as a wide receiver he was an absolute beast. His career would appear to be over at this point, and as I said last week, there is no doubt in my mind that he is a Hall of Famer.
Dwight Clark (1979-1987): Clark made probably the most famous Catch in 49ers history, and in fact it probably ranks pretty high in NFL history. Clark was drafted the same year as Joe Montana and was a key part of the resurgence of the 49ers. He stands 4th in team in history in receptions, 3rd in yards and 6th in touchdowns. One of the more interesting stories surrounding Clark (there is some debate as to the exact details), is that Bill Walsh was looking to work out a quarterback at Clemson and needed a receiver. Clark answered the call, did enough to impress Walsh, and the rest is history.
John Taylor (1987-1995): Taylor made arguably the second most famous catch in 49ers history, the game-winner against the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. Taylor currently stands 8th or better in franchise history in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Add in his skills as a return man and he was a dynamic threat for the 49ers throughout his career. And, of course, he holds the pre-eminent spot as second banana to Jerry Rice.
Billy Wilson (1951-1960): Wilson stands 6th in receptions, 5th in yards and 5th in touchdowns. Wilson was a 6-time Pro Bowler waaaaay back in the day and stands as one of the first great receivers in 49ers history. In fact, a look at comparable NFL receivers in the NFL opens the argument that Wilson should in fact be a Hall of Famer. Bill Walsh pushed for his enshrinement year in and year out, describing him as "the top pass receiver of his time and one of the finest blockers, just a great all-around end."
Gene Washington (1969-1977): Today's fans might recognize Gene Washington as the man who introduces draft choices after the first round, as Director of Football Operations for the NFL. Before entering the league office (he retired as Director of Football Operations in 2009), Washington was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All Pro with the 49ers. He finished his time with the 49ers 7th in team history in receptions, 4th in yards and 3rd in touchdowns.