I was poking around the Internet earlier today, and I stumbled across something at Pro Football Reference. The site actually has a database for player unifom numbers. You can search a team for any given uniform number and see the history of players who have worn it. I don't know how long they've had it, but I just found it, and my life has changed for the better!
The San Francisco 49ers are now 96 days away from their opener against the Dallas Cowboys, and with this PFR discovery, I figured we could have some fun with a countdown. This will feature a mix of articles looking at current and historic 49ers, depending on who is listed for each uniform number.
Here is a look at the 49ers that have worn 96. It only shows players back to 1986, which had me wondering if the database is 100% up to date. I found listings of older players at other numbers, so it is entirely possible the 49ers did not have a No. 96 before 1986. They are sorted by year worn, and the final column is Approximate Value (defined):
Dennis Brown and Andre Carter have had the biggest impact among the 96s, but Corey Lemonier's presence could be huge in 2014. He split time with Dan Skuta backing up Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks last season, and did some solid work. When Smith went to rehab, Skuta got the nod for more snaps initially, but Lemonier handled more of the snaps in the latter half of Smith's absence.
This year, Smith could very well be facing a suspension to start the season. We probably won't know until July or August, but if he sits any stretch of games, Lemonier is the guy to watch. Skuta and Aaron Lynch will be in the mix as well, but Lemonier is the guy I see becoming the leader of that platoon. And who knows, if Lemonier shows enough while Smith is out, he could very well be breathing down Ahmad Brooks' neck sooner rather than later. Brooks is a very strong all-around linebacker, and Lemonier has a lot of work to do before he reaches the point of being able to replace Brooks. But after what I saw last year, it's at least on the radar.
And in 96 days, we'll start to get a better idea of it!