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 25 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: DB Dave Baker (1959-1961)
This was a pretty tough call for me, and there definitely was an easy out. Eric Davis was the big name thanks to his play-making in the 1990s. He made a key interception and forced a key fumble in the 49ers NFC title game victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The following year, he was named All Pro on the number one defense in the league.
There is also running back Charlie Garner.Garner joined the 49ers in 1999, and in two seasons put up some big numbers. He rushed for 1,229 yards in 1999, and 1,142 yards in 2000, before leaving as a free agent. He played on the 49ers only two sub-.500 teams between 1983 and 2002.
However, Baker is my choice here. He is entirely under-the-radar, but a little research indicates a great short career, and a lot of "what could have been" as well. Baker was a first round pick of the 49ers, selected fifth overall in 1959. He immediately made an impact, picking off five passes his rookie year, and earning a Pro Bowl nod. He followed that up with ten interceptions in 1960, and six more in 1961.
Baker then left the 49ers for a stint in the Army. After his two year commitment was up, instead of coming back to the 49ers, he accepted an offer to become the first athletic director and head basketball coach for Southern Nazarene University. I suppose "what could have been" might mark him down, but he did some great things in his three years with the team.
Who wears it now: DB Jimmie Ward (2014-present)
Tarell Brown sported the number through 2013, but when he departed, the number was bestowed upon 2014 first round pick Jimmie Ward. Although he was listed as a safety in college, Ward played a lot of nickel. His role as a rookie was nickel before aggravating a foot injury. He went on injured reserve midway through the season, and returned to team drills on Tuesday.
At this point, he is working his way up from the ground floor. Tramaine Brock has taken on slot work during Ward's absence, and is intent on holding on to the role. If Ward cannot take that job back, backup safety and dime back seem like possibilities in 2015. He has value for the future, but we might need some patience to see this play out.