The San Francisco 49ers have had a host of prominent players throughout their history. The five Super Bowl victories mean plenty of players get a lot of love when we look back through history, but there are plenty who are a little more under the radar.
The 49ers at 49ers Hive put together a fun offseason prompt:
Underrated player can mean a lot of things. I think we could break this into two questions:
- Which player does not get enough love among 49ers fans?
- Which player does not get enough love among non-49ers fans?
There are a host of players from the pre-Walsh years that are easily forgotten and could fit into either of these categories. Names like John Brodie, Gene Washington, R.C. Owens, and Kermit Alexander are just a few. However, that’s more about age and not knowing full history, rather than not having proper appreciation from fans who watched the team at that particular time.
So let’s look at this question another way. Which 49ers players during your time watching the team are most underrated? If you’ve been a fan since the beginning of the franchise, we’d love to hear about some of the old school players. If you’ve been a fan since the Walsh years, or if you’re younger and have only been a fan for 10 or 20 years, who are your most underrated.
In some ways, for non-49ers fans, I think Garrison Hearst is woefully underrated — both for his return from the ankle injury, and his performances before the injury. He’s fifth all time on the franchise rushing leaderboard, and his 4.7 yards per carry trails only Joe Perry (5.2), Hugh McElhenny (4.9), and Charlie Garner (4.8) among 49ers running backs in the top 20 of the leaderboard.
One player that I think ends up underrated in some respects by 49ers fans is J.J. Stokes. From a draft perspective, it was not the most effective pick. But once he entered the NFL, he was a decent receiver for a stretch. The trade up for him still stings, but all things considered, he wasn’t that awful. Make of that what you will.
Who are your underrated 49ers, past and/or present?