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

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The San Francisco 49ers season starts in 51 days. We take a look at jersey No. 51, worn by one of the great interior linemen in 49ers history.

George Rose/Getty Images

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 51 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: OL Randy Cross (1976-1988)

The San Francisco 49ers have had some interesting players sport the number 51. Randy Cross gets the "who wore it best" title, but more recently, Ken Norton Jr. wore it from 1994 to 2000, and Takeo Spikes wore it from 2008 to 2010. Spikes was there to help Patrick Willis learn some things, and Norton was a key cog in that 1994 Super Bowl squad.

However, the best remains Cross. The 49ers spent a second round pick on Cross in the 1976 NFL Draft. He spent the first three years and last two years of his career playing center, and the middle eight years playing right guard. He was voted to three Pro Bowl teams, all while playing right guard. Cross retired following the 49ers second Super Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. He had started at right guard in the first two Super Bowls, but was back at center for the third.

Who wears it now: LB Desmond Bishop (2015-present)

Dan Skuta was the most recent person to wear No. 51, but with his departure, Desmond Bishop has taken over the number. The 49ers added Bishop late last season following the decision to place Chris Borland on injured reserve. Bishop is primarily a special teams player at this point in his career, but with the retirements of Borland and Patrick Willis, there will be some opportunities on the inside linebacker depth chart. Philip Wheeler seems like the strongest candidate for reserve work behind NaVorro Bowman and Michael Wilhoite. However, Bishop and Nick Moody will get plenty of preseason opportunities as well.