Since football is in its offseason lull, Chase Stuart of Football Perspective decided to take a look at "franchise nemeses". He has been utilizing Pro Football Reference's Player Game Finder to figure out who has performed best against each franchise in passing, rushing and receiving. PFR has done a spectacular job accumulating stats over NFL history, and their search tools provide a chance to compare and contrast players across the years.
I thought I'd pull out some of the stats of the players who have found the most "success" against the 49ers. I put success in quotation marks because counting stats like total yards do not necessarily indicate great success. For example, Jim Everett is second in career passing yards against the 49ers with 3,880. He comes in behind Johnny Unitas, who had 4,096 yards against the 49ers over the course of his career.
Everett had big yards, but that was a cumulative thing as he also led all opponents in passing attempts against San Francisco. He also had a TD/INT ratio of 21/19, and a QB rating of 72.0. Oh, and his Rams and Saints teams were 4-14 against the 49ers. Win/loss record is not a QB stat (in spite of what some might think), but those teams were not quite up to par with the 49ers in spite of Everett's yardage numbers.
Here is a look at the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers who have had some measure of success against the 49ers. If you click on the link, you can sort through each position's categories. Additionally, if you want to do your own searches, click on "Show/Hide Search Form" and go to town.
1. Johnny Unitas - 4,096 yards, 53.3% completion percentage, 85.1 QB rating, 8.08 Y/A, 7.66 AY/A
2. Jim Everett - 3,880 yards, 53.6%, 72.0 QB rating, 6.42 Y/A, 5.7 AY/A
3. Kurt Warner - 3,807 yards, 64.9%, 94.3 QB rating, 8.05 Y/A, 7.73 AY/A
4. Matt Hasselbeck - 3,665 yards, 64.2%, 90.4 QB rating, 7.42 Y/A, 6.96 AY/A
5. Steve Bartkowski - 3,416 yards, 58.9%, 81.8 QB rating, 6.94 Y/A, 6.48 AY/A
In going through the QBs, Philip Rivers and Tony Romo led in adjusted yards per attempt, with Roger Staubach a close third. Rivers has a career 130.1 QB rating, and his Chargers are 2-0 against the 49ers. Romo has a career 114.7 QB rating, and his Cowboys are 3-0 against the 49ers. The Chargers have occasionally found some success against the 49ers (outside of the Super Bowl!). Aside from Rivers, Dan Fouts had a QB rating of 115.5 in three career starts against the 49ers. His Chargers were 3-0 during that time.
1. Jim Taylor - 1,333 yards, 4.78 yards/attempt, 8 touchdowns
2. Steven Jackson - 1,252 yards, 3.53 yards/attempt, 6 touchdowns
3. Marshall Faulk - 1,017 yards, 4.46 yards/attempt, 8 touchdowns
4. Shaun Alexander - 954 yards, 3.99 yards/attempt, 10 touchdowns
5. Lawrence McCutcheon - 868 yards, 3.88 yards/attempt, 4 touchdowns
The link above sorts by total yards. If you switch to yards/attempt, Marshawn Lynch moves up the list, with 4.92 yards per attempt, while Eric Dickerson averaged 4.89 yards per attempt. There were some fairly random players who found a good deal of success against the 49ers in shorter careers. From 1991 to 1996, Erric Pegram averaged 5.16 yards per attempt on 80 carries against the 49ers during his time with the Falcons (and one game against SF with Pittsburgh). Another random one was Rick Casares. He was in the NFL from 1960 to 1964, and averaged 4.99 yards per attempt against the 49ers with 82 career carries against them.
1. Isaac Bruce - 128 rec, 1,925 yards, 15.04 Y/R, 10 touchdowns
2. Torry Holt - 116 rec, 1,542 yards, 13.29 Y/R, 7 touchdowns
3. Larry Fitzgerald - 100 rec, 1,361 yards, 13.61 Y/R, 11 touchdowns
4. Henry Ellard - 92 rec, 1,381 yards, 15.01 Y/R, 6 touchdowns
5. Andre Rison, 85 rec, 1,112 yards, 13.08 Y/R, 12 touchdowns
First off, it's worth noting that Anquan Boldin came in sixth on the list of receptions. My favorite inclusion in the top ten has to be tight end Wesley Walls. Originally a second round draft pick of the 49ers, Walls was a pain in the butt during his time with the Carolina Panthers. He hauled in 68 receptions for 744 yards and nine touchdowns over the course of ten years against the 49ers. Although an expansion team, the Panthers quickly became a tough team for the 49ers, and it seemed like Walls was constantly making big plays against the 49ers.
Since the passing game has changed quite a bit over the years, receptions and total yards is not the best way to assess performance across eras. It's difficult in any circumstance, but yards per reception is interesting to consider. The top four in Y/R vs. the 49ers played five or fewer games. If we narrow it down a bit, Jack Snow put up 21.53 yards per reception in 19 games against the 49ers from 1965 to 1975. Max McGee had 19.61 yards per reception in 10 games between 1960 and 1966. Carroll Dale had 19.07 yards per reception in 18 games between 1961 and 1973.