The NFL announced on Tuesday that one of the rule changes made at the annual league meetings is that players are now permitted to wear the No. 0 for the first time. The change expands on the number change in 2021 when the NFL allowed positions like wide receiver, running back, and secondary members to wear single-digit numbers.
Players like Calvin Ridley and Micah Parson have already announced the change to the new number, who will don the No. 0 for the 49ers? With Deebo Samuel already ruling out the possibility, here are the best options to be the 49ers Agent Zero:
5. QB Trey Lance/QB Brock Purdy/QB Sam Darnold
I don’t know who the 49ers’ Week 1 quarterback will be, as it’s not even April and a decision doesn’t have to be made for at least a few months. I know the winner of the quarterback competition would look great in the No. 0.
A quarterback hasn’t worn the No. 0 since Johnny “Mister Zero” Clement wore the number for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1946-1948, when he completed 37.7 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns to 19 interceptions with Pittsburgh.
Kyle Shanahan will probably want more productivity from the winner of his three potential No. 0’s. Just imagine the number of uniform sales for that “Lance 0” jersey. The lines waiting for its release would match those of the iPhone’s release in 2007.
4. P Mitch Wishnowsky/the 49ers 2023 kicker
If we want to talk about jersey sales, I can’t think of anything better than a member of the special teams wearing No. 0. Something about the No. 0 screams special teams to me, which is why Wishnowsky, Zane Gonzalez, or [insert your favorite college kicker here] makes sense.
Although, the NFL also announced kickers and punters can now choose from the numbers 20-49 and 90-99. The idea of Wishnowsky sharing the No. 99 with Manny Lawson, Aldon Smith, and DeForest Buckner might be too good to pass up.
3. RB Christian McCaffrey
McCaffrey has already made one number change when acquired by the 49ers, so what’s the problem with another? McCaffrey used to be a single-digit player when he wore No. 5 at Stanford, but with that and No. 22 taken at the time by Jeff Wilson, McCaffrey made the switch to No. 23. The running back could make the change back to No. 22 with it being available, but something about No. 0 would make McCaffrey pop even more.
Some variation of the phrase “there’s zero chance of tackling No. 0” could be marketing gold.
2. CB Samuel Womack
The final two on this list are the most logical options. When Womack started at Toledo, he wore No. 19 before making the switch to No. 0 before his senior season in 2020. With the NFL not allowing No. 0 last year, Womack made the change to No. 26 after the 49ers drafted him in the fifth round. With No. 0 available, a change for Womack would make sense.
Womack finishes second for the No. 0 though because No. 26 is already a solid number for a cornerback, as is any number in the 20s.
1. CB Deommodore Lenoir
To understand why Lenoir is the best choice for No. 0, a look at the 49ers’ history with No. 38 is required. It’s a number that’s been used 23 times in 49ers franchise history, with Dashon Goldson being the most notable. The No. 38 hasn’t had much luck in recent history, with Adrian Colbert, Dontae Johnson, Jamycal Hasty, and Tashaun Gipson changing from 38 to something else over the last five years.
Lenoir wore No. 15 and No. 6 his first three years at Oregon before switching to No. 0 before his senior season in 2020. He made the change to No. 38 after being drafted by the 49ers, and has worn the number in the two seasons since.
With Womack’s No. 26 being a good number for a cornerback, No. 38 is not. Imagine how cool a 49ers secondary that features No. 7 Charvarius Ward and No. 0 Lenoir would look.