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NN all-time roster: 53-man roster, automatic entrants, service time requirements

Yesterday, I mentioned that we are bringing back the Niners Nation all-time team. We put it together in 2008/2009, and it's time to do it again.

There is plenty of room for debate on this, but I have a few ideas to make this both interesting and to also simplify some of the issues that would arise.

53-man roster

The plan initially was to put together a starting lineup on both sides of the ball. However, whatsURdeal had a good idea. Why not do a full 53-man roster? The 49ers have an extensive list of players that have done great things with their career. It raises questions about who to include when you've got so many all-time greats. And so, I think it could be fun to put together a full 53-man roster. It won't match a normal 53-man roster, because teams often pick specialists to fill out a few spots. We'll have a kicker and punter, but we'll use some of those other late roster spots to make sure we get some of the greats on the roster.

Automatic entrants

The 49ers have 15 players and coaches (Bill Walsh) who have earned entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I was thinking we could automatically include them. There are a couple issues with that. The first is that Y.A. Tittle becomes the third quarterback, without holding a vote to potentially include John Brodie. Additionally, the Million Dollar Backfield includes John Henry Johnson, who only spent three seasons with the 49ers. Moreover, if we included Johnson, Hugh McElhenny, and Joe Perry, we would be running out of roster spots for some players that have had arguably better careers. What are your thoughts on handling automatic entrants? Do I just subjectively not include some Hall of Famers?

Service time

Deion Sanders had a spectacular single season with the 49ers, but it was only one season. Back when we first did the voting, I instituted a "Gary Plummer" rule that required at least four years with the 49ers. Part of that was to cover for recency bias with Patrick Willis. At the time, he had been on the team for two years. He seemed destined for great things, but recency bias is always going to be an issue, particularly for those of us younger fans who did not see older 49ers teams.

Someone suggested setting an arbitrary cut-off of something like 5 years or 75 games played. SFShocker responded with this question

I think what's important to discuss is are we comparing peak production/player ability, or are we just talking about who had the best career with the Niners? Also are building a hypothetical team or are we just filling in the position groups independently?

If we go with peak production, including Deion Sanders and others would allow for them. If we went with the best career, Deion would not be included. I need to think about this one, as I think there are good arguments for both. I'm curious what people think about this differentiation. Let us know in the comments.