NFL Network continued their run of debate-inspiring rankings shows Saturday evening, putting together a list of the Top 10 49ers of all time. The list was heavy on the last 30 years, but it provided a chance for some interesting debate. The show will re-air at 11 a.m. this Wednesday.
Here is the Top 10
1. Joe Montana
2. Jerry Rice
3. Ronnie Lott
4. Million Dollar Backfield: Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry, John Henry Johnson
5. Steve Young
6. Patrick Willis
7. Roger Craig
8. Dwight Clark
9. Charles Haley
10. Frank Gore
I was hoping they would find some ways to recognize the pre-Bill Walsh 49ers, and they did so by placing the entire Million Dollar Backfield in at No. 4. Normally I'd say that's cheating, but that group of guys has become so synonymous with each other that I don't think it's such a bad thing. And given the 49ers history, it was a good way to get the entire group of guys on the list.
The inclusion of Patrick Willis was a little bit surprising, given that he very well could only be midway through his career. I think if he continues on his current trajectory, he will work his way potentially into that top five group. For now though, it might be a little bit early to make that jump.
Frank Gore is a contemporary of Willis, but given that he is further along in his career AND he has put together franchise-best career and single season rushing numbers, it seems fitting to include him on this list. Gore is the franchise's all-time leading rusher, having surpassed 9,000 career yards on Thursday. He has a decent shot at getting to 10,000 before the end of this season, so finger's crossed for that.
The episode recognized the many great 49ers over the years, although it was primarily through "Best of the Rest" segments. They mentioned guys like Leo Nomellini, Bob St. Clair, Jimmy Johnson, and Dave Wilcox, among others, but it was clear this show was focusing primarily on the last 30 years of 49ers history. It's not exactly surprising.