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49ers not expected to retire jerseys anytime soon

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As much of a bummer as it is, it’s somewhat of a good reason.

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A few months back word came out about Trent Taylor switching jersey numbers. At first, the quick assumption was his abandonment of No. 81 was so the San Francisco 49ers could retire it in honor of Terrell Owens. That’s not going to be the case.

The Athletic’s Matt Barrows wrote that the 49ers aren’t planning on retiring Owens’ jersey. Nor are they prepared to retire Patrick Willis’ (No. 52) or Frank Gore’s (No. 21). This decision comes straight from the top, 49ers CEO Jed York. York would rather place players into the ring of honor for one good reason: The 49ers can run out of numbers if they aren’t careful.

“I just feel that there’s a way to do it that respects players of the past but also allows players in the present and the future to continue to wear a number,” York said, per Barrows.

Barrows noted the team liked a method used by the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that has retired only two jerseys in their history. Those numbers are Ernie Stautner (70) and Joe Green (75) if you’re curious. There aren’t retired numbers beyond that, but numbers that the Steelers sparingly allow used after said number had a great career.

The 49ers are already running out of numbers at training camps when they have 90 different numbers to give out. Once things are cut down to the 53-man roster it gets more manageable, but in a few decades, that number could shrink if the 49ers go on another tear in the league and have a grip of numbers to retire again.

Gore is the latest 49er to come to mind about having a jersey retired given his climb up the all-time rushing yards leaderboards. If this is any indication, No. 21 might, in theory, be available again if need be.