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53 days until 49ers kickoff: Who wore it best? Who wears it now?

The San Francisco 49ers season starts in 53 days. We take a look at jersey No. 53, which includes a current great and a former great.

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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 53 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 NaVorro Bowman (2010-present)/DE Tommy Hart (1968-1977)

For many fans, there is no question about this. Prior to his injury, NaVorro Bowman was in the discussion with Patrick Willis as being the best inside linebacker in the NFL. He earned three straight All-Pro nods from 2011 to 2013. It remains to be seen how he will return from what was a devastating knee injury, but 49ers fans are psyched for the return of Bo.

But for older fans of the team, and really any who have researched the history, Tommy Hart is a guy that cannot be forgotten. Hart was drafted as a linebacker, but after struggling there, he put on weight and become a defensive end. Sacks were not officially recorded prior to the 1980s, so it is tough to know exactly what he did.

The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame describes him as a player who "averaged" 15 sacks a season with the 49ers and finished his career with 130 sacks. The 49ers record book indicates he had 106 sacks during his ten-year career with the team. That does not add up to 15 per season, but it appears the GSHOF is only considering his eight years in the starting lineup. He did not move into the starting lineup until he transformed into a defensive end.

Whatever the case, he was a beast of a pass rusher. Had I lived then I might include him on his own, but without being able to compare him to others, he gets placed in equal position with Bowman. There are so many great players over the years I would have loved to see play. Hart was voted to one Pro Bowl team and no All-Pro teams, but that is another reason it would be great to learn more about how Hart compared to other players in his day.