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 23 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: CB Marquez Pope (1995-1998)
I was tempted to post LaMichael James for the picture, but I figured Taylor Mays was a little more timely. He just asked for and received his release from the Detroit Lions on Friday. He was not getting many snaps, and likely figured he would be cut, so he would prefer to try and land somewhere sooner. Either way, enjoy the rare opportunity to throw up a Taylor Mays photo!
The number 23 has not been particularly distinguished with the 49ers. Marquez Pope is the leader in AV by a safe enough margin that he is my pick for who wore it best. I would have expected more of 23, but I guess it is a bigger deal in basketball. Pope spent four years with the 49ers, peaking in 1996 with six interceptions.
He is notable as the only player to play on most of the California teams. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers, played a year with the Los Angeles Rams, moved on to the San Francisco 49ers, and then wrapped up with the Oakland Raiders. He only missed playing for the Los Angeles Raiders.
Pope is also notable for inspiring a rule about fumble recoveries. In 2000, Pope recovered a Seahawks fumble in a rainy game. He hit the ground and then slid into the end zone for a touchdown. Apparently the league already had a rule for interceptions that prevented momentum from adding to a return. After the 2000 season, the league instituted a rule that said the ball will be spotted where the player goes down, not where his momentum carries him.
Who wears it now: RB Reggie Bush (2015-present)
The 49ers are bringing in a veteran to sport 23 this year. Bush signed a 1-year deal, and will serve as a complementary option to Carlos Hyde. While Bush will get some carries, I expect his work to be primarily as a receiving back. Bay Area Sports Guy wrote an article on Friday discussing the concept of Bush potentially being the team's No. 3 receiver, as opposed to the receivers behind Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. That makes a lot of sense if Bush can stay healthy. The team held him out of the preseason opener, and it would not surprise me to see him limited in most of the remaining preseason games.