The San Francisco 49ers kick off the 2015 NFL regular season on Monday Night Football, on September 14. That game. means San Francisco is now a mere 57 days away from kicking off its 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: ILB Frank Nunley (1967-1976)
The picture above is Rickey Jackson due to no Nunley pictures being available in our photo editor. Jackson is best known for his time in the New Orleans' Saints vaunted Dome Patrol linebacker corps. However, after 13 years and six Pro Bowl appearances with the Saints, Jackson spent his final two seasons with the 49ers in 1994 and 1995. He won a Super Bowl ring with the 1994 squad, and finished his career with 9.5 sacks in 1995. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Nunley however did a lot more in his time wearing No. 57. He is part of the 10-year club, which includes 48 members. Vernon Davis will join the club this season. Nunley was the middle linebacker in Dick Nolan's "flex" defense, moving into the starting lineup in 1969, and remained there into 1976. He tore his ACL, and when he learned Monte Clark would not be returning in 1977, Nunley decided to retire.
The most important thing to know about Nunley is his nickname was Fudge Hammer. He apparently got the nickname because he had a very sweet disposition off the field, but was a big hitter on the field.
Who wears it now: ILB Michael Wilhoite (2011-present)
Wilhoite heads into his second straight season as a starting inside linebacker. Philip Wheeler, Nick Moody, Desmond Bishop and Shayne Skov will compete for opportunities, but this is very much Wilhoite's job to lose. He will likely start opposite NaVorro Bowman as the 49ers look to replace the recently retired Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. Wilhoite was very solid in place of Bowman last season, and will look to build on it. His coverage skills are something to work on, but the return of Bowman will hopefully mean the 49ers do not need to overly rely on Wilhoite in coverage.