The San Francisco 49ers kick off the 2015 NFL regular season on Monday Night Football, on September 14. That game is now a mere 81 days away from kicking off their 2015 regular season. In the spirit of that approaching date, I thought I would steal this idea from our Oakland Raiders site.
Who wore it best: WR Terrell Owens (1996-2003)
After introducing the series yesterday, I got some questions about whether TO or Anquan Boldin would represent 81. While I love what Boldin has done for this team, and think he is a phenomenal receiver, for the purposes of just 49ers careers, TO gets the nod. If Boldin hung around for another three or four seasons after 2015, I think he could definitely work his way further into the discussion. For now though, TO is the guy.
In eight season with the 49ers, TO finished with 592 receptions for 8,572 yards and 81 touchdowns. That averages out to 74 receptions, 1,071 yards and ten touchdowns per season.
It is worth noting Boldin was the 49ers first 1,000-yard receiver since TO. I don't know if Owens will be able to overcome some of the media perception, but in terms of pure football, he was an unbelievable wide receiver. Even without considering his time away from the 49ers, the numbers are ridiculous.
Of course, the TO discussion frequently ends up moving to how his time ended. There were numerous issues, and things ended badly. If TO and Boldin were a bit closer in production for their 49ers careers, that might be enough to lean Boldin. However, TO has the clear edge at this point.
Who wears it now: WR Anquan Boldin (2013-present)
The No. 81 was a problematic jersey after TO departed. The list of players to wear it prior to Boldin's arrival include (in chronological order): Rashaun Woods, Antonio Bryant, Brandon Williams, Bryan Gilmore, Sean Ryan, Brandon Jones, Justin Peelle, Garrett Celek. It took nearly a decade, but it would appear the Woods stink has been removed from 81.
In two season with the 49ers, Boldin has 168 receptions for 2,241 yards and 12 touchdowns. That averages out to 84 receptions, 1,120 yards and six touchdowns a season. Boldin has said he does not want to play until he is 40, but at 34 years of age, he could very well get another two or three seasons in after the 2015 season.
He is a free agent after this season, and his future with the 49ers will depend in large part on what the team puts together this year. If the team goes in the tank, I would be surprised if Boldin signed a new contract. But a solid year could keep him around for another couple years. His bonafides were long established before his arrival in the Bay Area, but a strong close with the 49ers could at least increase potential Hall of Fame discussion down the road.