Fooch’s update: On his Instagram page, Hightower says the number should be retired, and that he did not ask for the number. Rather, it was simply assigned to him.
The San Francisco 49ers are reporting for the offseason workout program, with classroom and strength and conditioning work scheduled to begin on Monday. New players joining the team are getting their numbers figured out, and we have a bit of a surprise on day one.
One of the 49ers most recent additions, Tim Hightower, posted a picture from the 49ers locker room at Levi’s Stadium. His locker is next to NaVorro Bowman’s, and his picture shows off the nameplate with his new number. For the time being, it would appear he is wearing a slightly notable number, No. 21.
Of course, Frank Gore sported the No. 21 for the length of his time with the 49ers. Gore is now wearing No. 23 with the Indianapolis Colts.
Gore left the 49ers as the franchise’s all-time rushing leader with 11,073 yards. He currently sits at No. 8 on the NFL’s all-time list with 13,065 yards. He rushed for 1,025 yards last season, and if he can get another 1,000 yards this year, he would move into fifth place, just behind Curtis Martin.
All of this is to say, wait, what? No. 21 is a popular number in sports, but at some point the 49ers have to retire it, don’t they? It is worth noting that a number assigned right now for the offseason workout program does not guarantee the player will be wearing that number when the regular season starts. I believe Isaac Bruce briefly wore No. 80 during the 49ers offseason workout program in 2008, but even with Rice’s permission for the regular season, chose to wear No. 88. I guess we’ll wait and see what number Hightower is wearing in five months.