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79 days to 49ers kickoff: The Hall of Famer gets the nod

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The San Francisco 49ers season starts in 79 days. We take a look at jersey No. 79. Does the retired version deserve highest honors? Yea, I think so.

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The San Francisco 49ers kick off the 2015 NFL regular season on Monday Night Football, on September 14. That game is now a mere 79 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: OT Bob St. Clair (1953-1963)

The 49ers have a history of some great offensive linemen. Number 79 has had a couple of them, with the most notable recent lineman being Harris Barton from 1987 to 1996. The jersey was worn through the 2000 season, and then retired in 2001 for Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair.

If we are just going by the previously mentioned approximate value, Barton is the guy who gets the nod. However, if you get into the Hall of Fame, you get the honors for this modest series of articles. No disrespect intended to Barton, but St. Clair is viewed by many as a candidate for the team's proverbial historical Mount Rushmore.

St. Clair was a titan of the Bay Area. He played for the 49ers from 1953 to 1963, and then went into local politics. He was actually mayor of Daly City during his playing career, and later served on the San Mateo Board of Supervisors. My favorite story about him is the fact that he reportedly frequently ate a slab of raw meat. I guess he would be the proverbial tough guy.

The 49ers offensive line is in a bit of transition this year, but they have an anchor in another now long-time 49er, Joe Staley. He has been with the team from 2007 to the present. He missed seven games in each of 2009 and 2010, but otherwise has played in every game. We've seen him leave the field with injuries the last couple years, but they have not cost him games.

Staley turns 31 at the end of August, and is signed through the 2019 season. That means he will be 35 heading into the final year of this contract. His cap numbers the rest of the way are $7.6 million, $8.3 million, $11.15 million, $7.7 million and $7.7 million. Even without a downturn in play, I suspect the two sides restructure the deal, potentially prior to the 2017 season when he has the $11.15 million cap figure.

I'd like to think Staley will stick around for his whole career, but we've already seen how that can change. I think a capable left tackle could potentially be more likely to stick around than a franchise running back, but this offseason has shown us things can change in a hurry.