Niners Hall of Famers and Retired Numbers

Greetings fellow Niner fans. First, I'm bored and I'm tired of reading about mock drafts. The notion to spread the NFL year to parallel the actual calendar year is ludicrous. Pushing the draft back until May is taking its toll on me.

Second, I live in Seattle and the amount of nonsense I have to endure from this arrogant, obnoxious fanbase is almost intolerable. I use the word "bandwagon" alot. Living in Seattle, one just can't help but know about the local teams. Since I've been here through high school, college, grad school, and various positions of employment, I have "working" knowledge about this team and their fanbase. I use that knowledge to shut them up and it always works. Turns out I know alot more about their history than they do.

Fearing that one day I'll run into a Seahawk fan that lives in the Bay Area and has the same working knowledge about our Niners and also to battle the complete boredom until the draft gets here, I've decided to delve into Niner Lore before I was born to find out about the early Niners.

I thought, where should I start? Ah, there is this Hall of Fame place that all of the good players seem to be in.

As I reviewed the former Niner players inducted into the HOF, my main focus was on those players who were 1) inducted as Niners and 2) spent the majority of their careers as a Niner. Thus, this eliminates O.J. Simpson, Bob Hayes, John Henry Johnson*, Deion Sanders, Richard Dent, Rickey Jackson, Rod Woodson, Chris Doleman, and Larry Allen from the list of players who are HOF's, but also played for the Niners.

Looking at the current Niner inductees for the Hall of Fame, the names we know are there: Montana, Rice, Lott, Dean and Young from the Glory Days. But also the names of Leo Nomellini, Y.A. Tittle, Joe "The Jet" Perry and Hugh McElhenny are present from the 1950's/1960's while they played in Kezar. They deserve their own fanpost at a later time.

Dave Wilcox

In 2000, I watched the inductions of both Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott into the HOF. Also inducted into that class were Raidahs DE Howie Long, Steelers owner Dan Rooney and an old timer named Dave Wilcox, who was a Niner. I remember Joe's speech referencing Dave Wilcox as he was glad not to have played against him.

So let's start with him. Dave Wilcox was this badass linebacker that terrorized the NFL. "A tremendous hitter and intimidator, that's the way Dave Wilcox's playing days are remembered. He was a powerful linebacker that had the physical ability to stop the big lumbering tight ends, but he also had the speed to keep up with the quick, shifty running backs. Wilcox may have been one of the leagues most forgotten players. His blue-collar style did not draw attention to himself the way many athletes today seem to crave the attention"

Here are some of his accolades:

  • Pro Bowl selection (1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973)
  • AP First-Team All-Pro (1971, 1972)
  • AP Second-Team All-Pro (1967, 1973)
  • NEA First-Team All-Pro (1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973)
  • NEA Second-Team All-Pro (1968) - The NEA stands for the Newspaper Enterprise Association and back in the '60's, they along with other nationally synidcated publications voted on All Pro teams.

I couldn't find any video of him, but I did find this:

It's essentially an interview of Dave Wilcox where he talks about the legendary games he's played in and the legendary players he played against. The interview was done during the "Sing" years. It made me appreciate Harbaugh even more after listening to it.

Interestingly enough, Dave Wilcox's number is NOT retired. He wore #64. Let's go Jed, make it happen!

Jimmy Johnson

During the same era, there was another player on defense that was not to be trifled with: Jimmy Johnson. This is what's written about Johnson in the HOF page: "A 6-2, 187-pound two-way star from UCLA, Johnson was the first of three first-round draft choices of the San Francisco 49ers in 1961.

Recognized as one of the best man-to-man defenders in history, Johnson's reputation was so great that opposition quarterbacks threw only rarely into his defensive territory. Still, Johnson intercepted 47 passes and returned them 615 yards. What?!!! This guy was a ball hawk!

He had his big moments as a receiver as well, an 80-yard touchdown reception against the Chicago Bears and a 181-yard day vs. Detroit, both in 1962. Johnson was named All-Pro four straight years from 1969 through 1972. He played in three Pro Bowls and missed two others because of injuries.

The former college honor roll student won the Pro Football Writers' George Halas Award for courageous play in 1971 and twice was the winner of the coveted Len Eshmont award given by the 49ers for inspirational play."

Here are some of his accolades:

Before Dick Sherman and Darrell Revis there was Deion Sanders. But before Deion, Jimmy Johnson was the best cover man, period. Shoot, even Fooch stated the same in this article:

Now if Baalke can draft a guy like this for this year's team, I think our chances to appear in Arizona next February might be pretty good.

Bob St. Clair

Another name I found was Bob St.Clair aka "The Geek". "A native son to San Francisco, who attended high school and college in the bay, St. Clair was a third-round draft selection in 1953 draft. Standing at 6-9 and 265 pounds, St. Clair's mere presence on the football field tended to intimidate many opponents.

He was blessed with size, speed, intelligence and a genuine love of hitting and, using these traits to the maximum; his on-the-field trademarks became hostility, power, and strength. He was an outstanding blocker, both on passing plays and rushing attempts.

Particularly early in his career, he was used on defense in goal line situations. He also excelled on the special teams. In 1956, he was credited with an amazing 10 blocked field goals.
Extremely popular with the fans and his teammates, St. Clair served as the 49ers’ team captain in 1957, 1958 and 1959. He was named first- or second-team All-NFL nine times and was selected to play in five Pro Bowls. St. Clair was tough and durable and often played in spite of severe injuries. Unfortunately, injuries eventually did cut short his career."

Here are some of his accolades:

He is an interesting fellow to say the least. I found this youtube interview of him where he explains why they call him "The Geek".

St. Clair was also mayor of Daly City - while he was playing. I love this guy!

John Brodie

Next, I went to the official Niner website to take a look at players who were not in the HOF, but were recognized by the team. I found three names. The first was this QB that had a "love/hate" relationship with the fans: John Brodie. I'll save him for another fanpost. Brodie's number 12 is retired.

Dwight Clark

Next I found this skinny WR who made this incredible reception in this one game. They call it "The Catch". That receiver's name is Dwight Clark. Clark's number 87 is retired.

Finally, I found a name that I was not familiar with, but was surprised the number was retired. The name: Charlie Kruger. The Number: 70.

Charlie Krueger

Krueger was drafted in the first round (9th overall pick) in 1958 by the 49ers out of Texas A&M. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (1960, 1964) and three-time All-Pro (1960,1965,1966) who anchored the defensive line for San Francisco during his 15 seasons. Playing alongside HOF Leo Nomellini, the Niners bolstered one of the more imposing defensive lines in the league. Cowboy Legendary Coach Tom Landry once said "Nobody is ever going to gain running at Charlie Krueger". This guy was a badass! He played all 15 years with the Niners and was very well respected around the league.

Here are some of his accolades:

Unfortunately, Krueger story doesn't end as a Disney movie would. In 1988, he won a landmark case against the Niners when it was found the medical staff back when he was playing had been lying to him about the severity of his injuries. The SI article is here:

Bryant Young

Now if you grew up in the 80's and 90's, you knew of this kid from Notre Dame. Not that one. This one the Niners traded up to the sixth pick in the 1994 draft in front of the Seahawks (who were AFC at the time) and took Bryant Young, DT. Seattle took this guy named Sam Adams who makes a decent beer, but that's another story.

Young played his entire career with the Niners which is almost unheard of in the Salary Cap era. Anchoring a line in his rookie year that included two HOF's Richard Dent and Rickey Jackson, along with DT mate Dana Stubblefield, Young was instrumental in helping the Niners exercise their Dallas demons by defeating the Cowboys twice in the 1994-95 campaign. The second contest was the NFC Championship game. The Niners would go onto win the Super Bowl in his rookie season.

Never experiencing the Super Bowl again, Young became the epitome of a what a Niner stood for: Class and Tenacity. Always the consummate team player, Young quickly became the quiet leader of the Niners during the Mariucci/Erickson/and Nolan years.

Here are some of his accolades:

He wore #97 and when he retired, no one else has been given that number. Although it hasn't been retired yet, I'm sure the Niners will retire ol' #97 soon enough.


Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed researching and writing about the Niner legends. There were tons of role players that I'm going to focus on in the future that haven't been inducted in the HOF or had their numbers retired, but without them the successes wouldn't have occurred. An example: Tom Rathman. But that's for another day.

Until the draft is here or DeSean Jackson agrees to take a pay cut to be traded to the Niners, Stay Faithful my friends and Go Niners!

*I was surprised that John Henry Johnson was not inducted as a Niner although his fame came from the legendary "Million Dollar Backfield". Johnson was traded to Detroit in 1957 and played for the Lions, Steelers and the Oilers prior to retiring.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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