So, here's the new project - it's all time NFL rosters for each franchise. I'm doing 45 man rosters, focusing on the total value for the career earned while playing for that particular franchise. I'll do one for every current franchise; although it's only for this first one, the Niners, that I'll have either the top 25 overall list or the commentary discussing how I came about the choices. I'd reply to any comments asking for a rationale for player X starting ahead of player Y, or player Z making the team over player A ("why you gotta cut player A? What he ever do to you?").
Now, if you publish books on sports lists, we might have a different conversation.
Lists are current through the end of the 2012 season.
Here we go.
1. Jerry Rice WR 1985-00 16 seasons
2.Joe Montana QB 1980-92 13 seasons
3. Steve Young QB 1987-99 13 seasons
4. Ronnie Lott CB/S 1981-90 10 seasons
5. Leo Nomellini DT 1950-63 14 seasons
6. Jimmy Johnson CB 1961-76 16 seasons
7. John Brodie QB 1957-73 17 seasons
8.Dave Wilcox LB 1964-74 11 seasons
9.Bryant Young DT 1994-07 14 seasons
10.Charlie Krueger DE 1959-73 14 seasons
11.Roger Craig RB 1983-90 8 seasons
12.Bob St. Clair T 1953-63 11 seasons
13.Randy Cross C/G 1976-88 13 seasons
14.Matt Hazeltine LB 1955-68 14 seasons
15.Keith Fahnhorst OT 1974-87 14 seasons
16.Joe Perry RB 1948-60, 63 14 seasons
17.Patrick Willis LB 2007- 6 seasons
18.Hugh McElhenny RB 1952-60 9 seasons
19.YA Tittle QB 1951-60 10 seasons
20.Terrell Owens WR 1996-03 8 seasons
21.Billy Wilson WR 1951-60 10 seasons
22. Frank Gore RB 2005- 8 years
23. Len Rohde T 1960-74 15 years
24 Gene Washington WR 1969-77 9 years
25.Brent Jones TE 1987-97 11 seasons
Let’s go ahead and fill out the rest of the all time 45 man Niners roster.
QB Joe Montana
RB Roger Craig
WR Jerry Rice
TE Brent Jones
C Jesse Sapolu
G Bruce Bosley
T Bob St. Clair
T Keith Fahnhorst
OL Harris Barton
OL Steve Wallace
OL Len Rohde
DE Charlie Krueger
DT Leo Nomellini
DT Bryant Young
DE Cedric Hardman
DL Michael Carter
DL Justin Smith
DL Tommy Hart
OLB Dave Wilcox
MLB Patrick Willis
OLB Matt Hazeltine
LB Keena Turner
LB Charles Haley
LB Ken Norton
LB Willie Harper
LB Willie Harper
CB Jimmy Johnson
S Ronnie Lott
S Tim McDonald
CB Eric Wright
DB Merton Hanks
DB Dwight Hicks
DB Don Griffin
DB Abe Woodson
PK Joe Nedney
P Andy Lee
QB – Obviously, with 3 QB in my top 5 Niners all time, there isn’t any question at all who should make the all time Niner roster, and no question about the order. I still have Joe as the greatest QB ever, and Steve’s in the top 10. Tittle makes the top 20 all time Niners and Jeff Garcia would be in the all time top 50.
RB – Perry’s the lead back over Roger, largely due to so many more seasons in SF. McElhenny has about half of Roger’s carries as a Niner, so there’s a solid drop to the third back. Willard’s extra time in SF allows him to hold off Hearst and Gore; if Gore can get/stay healthy he probably goes by him if there’s a full season in 2011. After 2012 I readjusted, Roger into the starting lineup.
WR – Jerry’s the greatest football player in the history of Earth. Owens had better numbers across the board than everyone else; if you said Wilson should start opposite Jerry after making an adjustment for era, I don’t hate you for that. Dwight’s a little more than Washington and JT, and no one else is in the conversation. After 2012 I readjusted, Washington in for Dwight.
TE – No one’s close to Brent; Francis edges out Kwalick – VD has a good 2 years before he’s in that discussion. VD became the backup after 2011.
OL – 4 of the starting linemen on the all time team make the top 25; Fred Quillan loses to Sapolu as starting center and then, along with Guy McIntrye, just loses out to Rohde for that last lineman spot on the roster. St Clair’s our best ever linemen and an all time great; Cross and Fahnhorst form the backbone of the line. I like bringing Barton off the bench to fill in both at tackle and guard, but if you started him inside instead of Bosley that would make sense.
DL – Nomellini’s an all time great, and BY joins him in the top 10 all time Niners. You bring in Michael Carter to play the run and add Stubblefield for depth; that seems pretty noncontroversial. Krueger’s an easy choice – you might pick Haley, who I have as a pass rush specialist backing up at outside linebacker, starting on the other side, but the linebacker who doesn’t make the team because Haley got his spot isn’t as good as whichever of Board/Hart/Hardman we’d have to leave off. I’m starting Hardman, but your mileage may vary.
I don’t have another lineman I’d consider in that group. After 2012, Smith became a backup.
LB – Wilcox is our best ever linebacker pretty solidly; I often think of he and St Clair in the same vein. Hazeltine just beats out Keena for the other outside starting spot, and with Turner and Haley rotating in I feel pretty good about that quartet of outside backers. I originally had Norton holding off Willis for the starting job in the middle, but that just would have been until after 2011 when there wouldn’t be any kind of argument between the two. If Willis stays healthy and stays in San Francisco, he’s headed for the all time top 10. I guess Willie Harper would be my pick if we wanted to move Haley to starting defensive end and we had to cut Hart. That’s a defensible choice. And now that's what I've done, deciding that every team I do this for will have 7 linemen and 7 linebackers. Everyone gets the same roster composition.
DB – Johnson and Lott are hall of famers; Lott’s the greatest safety who ever lived. Spots get tighter after that; you’d prefer Wright as a third corner ideally – but there’s just no one else with a good case to play opposite Johnson. I love me some Tim McDonald – particularly with Hicks/Hanks as backup safeties. You’ve got to have Woodson to return kicks – but you really don’t need Phillips as a third safety in place of another cover corner. Okay, so I replaced Mel Phillips with Don Griffin, and that solves that problem.