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 55 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: LB Matt Hazeltine (1955-1968)
We're getting down into the big linebacker numbers. Ahmad Brooks is the most notable recent player, but Matt Hazeltine gets the nod as the best to wear it. Hazeltine spent 13 years with the 49ers, earning two Pro Bowl nods and was team captain for five seasons.
The 49ers have one of their annual team awards named for Hazeltine. The linebacker was known for his durability, and the "Hazeltine Iron Man Award", which goes to the "most courageous and inspirational defensive player". Unfortunately there is a sad irony to this award. Hazeltine passed away in 1987 from Lou Gehrig's Disease. He was one of three members of the 1964 49ers to succumb to the disease. It could very well be unrelated to football, but given what we are learning about head trauma, odds seem high that it is connected.
Who wears it now: OLB Ahmad Brooks (2009-present)
I'm almost surprised this will mark Ahmad Brooks's seventh season with the 49ers. He could very well end up a salary cap casualty sooner rather than later, but I think he ends up on the roster this fall. Aaron Lynch and Eli Harold would seem to be stronger pass rushing options, but Brooks still brings an all-around game that the 49ers could use.
Lynch showed some things outside of the pass rush last year, so I would not put it past him to take a big step further this year. However, for now, I think Brooks will stick around. Beyond that remains to be seen, but for now, I think we see Brooks in No. 55 for the 49ers through the 2015 season.