Friday, August 14, 2009

The ALMOST All-Time San Francisco 49ers Offense

Quarterback: John Brodie

The term "hometown hero" surely applies to John Brodie.

He was born in San Francisco, and was raised in the Bay area. He attended nearby Stanford University, where he was an All-American who led the nation in passing in 1956.

He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

The 49ers drafted him in the first round of the 1957 draft, the third player chosen overall.

San Francisco already had a Hall of Fame player named Y.A. Tittle playing quarterback, so they brought Brodie along slowly.

He started in one of the five games he played during his rookie year, and won.

Brodie led the NFL in completion percentage in his second season, when he started six times in the twelve games he played.

After not playing much in his third year, Brodie started eight games in 1960. He showed the 49ers brass he was ready to assume the starting job full time, so Y.A. Tittle was traded to the New York Giants in the offseason.

His 1961 season was solid. He led the NFL with career-high marks of 9.1 yards gained per attempt, and 16.7 yards gained per completion.

After a good 1962 season, Brodie was hurt during the third game of 1963. He would miss the rest of the year.

San Francisco, and Brodie, struggled the next season, but he rebounded with perhaps the best year of his career in the 1965 season despite missing one game.

He led the NFL with 3,112 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, 242 completions, and 239.4 yards per game. All were career best marks. He also led the NFL with a 61.9 percent completion rate, and 349 passing attempts.

Brodie was named to his first Pro Bowl for his efforts.

The 49ers were mediocre the next few years, but Brodie had an excellent 1968 season.

He led the NFL with a career high 404 passing attempts, as well as 234 completions, 3,020 passing yards, a 57.9 completion percentage, and 215.7 yards gained per game. His 21 interceptions also led the league.

The 1970 season is considered by many the best John Brodie ever had. He led the NFL with 2,931 passing yards, 223 attempts, 24 touchdown passes, 210.1 yards gained per game, a 93.8 quarterback rating, a 7.4 net yards gained per attempt, an a 2.6 interception percentage.

He was named to his last Pro Bowl, as well as First Team All-Pro.

The 49ers won the NFC West, and would reach the NFC Championship Game.

Brodie was named NFL MVP by the both the Associated Press and Newspaper Enterprise Association, and was the first ever NFC MVP by United Press International.

The 49ers won the NFC West and went back to the NFC Championship Game again the next year with Brodie at the helm.

San Francisco wanted to Steve Spurrier to succeed the 37 year old Brodie in 1972. Spurrier was the 49ers first pick in 1967, and was the third player chosen. He had been a flop so far, as he would be all of his NFL career.

Spurrier's best year was in 1972, where he started nine games and won six. He was hurt towards the end of the year, and Brodie was called upon again.

He secured the NFC West title by throwing two touchdowns in a comeback victory on the last game of the season.

The 49ers would be eliminated by the Dallas Cowboys for the third year in a row, this time in the first round.

After starting six games the next year, he retired. His 31,548 passing yards were the third most in NFL history at that time.

Brodie was the leader of an exciting offense that led the NFL in points scored in 1965 and 1970, as well as the NFC in 1972.

The 49ers led the NFL in total yards gained in 1965 and the NFC in 1970.

Brodie oversaw an offense that was first in the NFL in yards passing in 1965 and 1969 and the NFC in 1970 and 1972.

His No. 12 jersey has been retired by the team, though he allowed long time friend Trent Dilfer wear it for two seasons as a tribute.

He was an smart and athletic player who had a quick release. Four times in his career, he was the least sacked quarterback in the NFL. His career average of 3.21 is the third best in NFL history.

His 6.59 career average of net yards per passing attempt is still the twelfth best in NFL history

John Brodie is a member of the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Jeff Garcia deserves mention. His three Pro Bowls are the most by any non-HOF QB in team history.

Fullback: Ken Willard

Ken was the Niners' first pick in the 1965 draft, and the second player chosen overall. He was put into the starting lineup immediately, an honor he would keep up until he left the team nine years later.

Teaming up with John David Crow in the San Francisco backfield, behind John Brodie at quarterback, Willard led the team with 778 yards rushing on 189 carries. He tied Crow for second in touchdowns scored on the team with nine.

Willard also caught 32 passes, and had the only passing attempt of his career intercepted and returned 45 yards.

Both Willard and Crow made the Pro Bowl that year, a season most noted by Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers scoring six touchdowns in a game against the 49ers.

San Francisco led the NFL in total yards gained, points scored, and passing yards gained that year.

The 1966 season saw Willard return to the Pro Bowl after catching a career best 42 passes, running for 763 yards, and scoring seven times.

He missed a game the next year, and would not miss another for the next six seasons. He rumbled for 510 yards, caught 23 balls, and scored six times.

Willard's best year may have been in 1968. He went back to the Pro Bowl after gaining a career best 967 yards, catching 36 passes, and scoring seven times.

His next season saw him go to his last Pro Bowl after scoring a career best 10 touchdowns. He also snagged 36 receptions, and ran for 557 yards.

San Francisco won the NFC West Division in 1970, and Willard was a big reason. He matched his career high total of 10 scores while gaining 789 yards and catching 31 passes.

The Niners led the NFL in total yards gained and points scored that season.

The 49ers made it to the NFC Championship Game, but lost to the Dallas Cowboys 17-10. Dallas controlled the clock by churning out 221 rushing yards, which was 168 more yards than San Francisco on 31 more attempts.

The Niners would repeat as NFC West champs the next year, as Willard gained 855 rushing yards. He also caught 27 passes and scored five times.

They went back to the NFC Championship, and lost to Dallas again. The Cowboys won the same way, by gaining 111 more rushing yards on 30 extra attempts. Dallas also intercepted three passes, and the game's final score was 14-3.

Willard injured his knee in 1972, and had to be a reserve for three of the 14 games. He rushed for 345 yards on 100 attempts, had 24 receptions, and scored five times.

The 49ers won the NFC West for a third straight year, but lost again to Dallas. This time it was in the divisional playoffs, a game Willard was unable to play. Dallas won 30-28 after scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.

Willard's knee was troublesome in the 1973 season. He was a reserve for four games, starting the other 10. He carried the ball 83 times, has 22 receptions, and scored twice.

He joined the Saint Louis Cardinals in 1974, and started in three of the seven games he appeared in. He scored his last career touchdown on four receptions, and gained 175 yards on 40 attempts.

The Cardinals won the NFC East that season, but lost in the first playoff game. Willard retired after that season.

His 1,582 carries for 5,930 yards and 45 rushing touchdowns are the third most in team history behind Roger Craig and Hall of Famer Joe "Jet" Perry.

His 273 receptions are still the thirteenth most in franchise history.

Tom Rathman and Earl Cooper also deserve mention.

Halfback: Roger Craig

Roger was drafted by the Niners in the second round of the 1983 draft, the 49th player chosen overall.

He was named the starting fullback in his rookie year, a position he would have his first four seasons, and showed a nose for the end zone by scoring twelve times. He also led the team with 725 rushing yards.

Craig scored 10 times the next year, and the 49ers would go on to win Super Bowl XIX. Craig scored three times in that game, the first player to have ever accomplished that feat.

He had the best year of his career in 1985, becoming the first player to ever gain a thousand yards in both rushing and receiving. Marshall Faulk is the only other player who has done this since.

Craig also became the first running back in NFL history to lead the league in receiving, when he caught 92 balls. He also scored a career-high 15 touchdowns, and averaged a career best 4.9 yards per carry.

He was named to his first Pro Bowl that season.

After catching 81 passes, running for 830 yards, and scoring seven times the next year, the 49ers moved Craig to halfback in 1987.

He responded by being named to the Pro Bowl. This is a feat he would attain the next two years as well, becoming the first player to ever go to a Pro Bowl as a fullback and halfback. Only Stephen Davis has duplicated by this since.

His 1988 season saw him rush for a career-high 1,502 yards, catching 76 passes, and scoring 10 times.

Craig was named the Newspaper Enterprise Association NFL MVP, the Associated Press NFL Offensive Player Of The Year, the UPI NFC Player Of The Year, and First Team All-Pro that year.

San Francisco would end the season by winning Super Bowl XXIII.

Craig ran for over a thousand yards for the final time of his career in 1989, getting 1,054 yards.

The 49ers won the Super Bowl a second straight season, and Craig scored a touchdown in the game.

He was injured in 1990 and missed five games. The 49ers were trying to get back to a third straight Super Bowl, and were beating the New York Giants by a point as time was running out in the fourth quarter. Craig fumbled, and the Giants recovered. New York soon kicked a game winning field goal as time expired.

It was his last play as a 49er, as they would release him. He signed with the Oakland Raiders for the 1991 season.

After starting in thirteen games, and scoring once on 590 rushing yards, the Raiders cut him.

He signed with the Minnesota Vikings and played two years with them as a backup, starting three times total. He scored six touchdowns over that time, and retired at the conclusion of the 1993 season.

Craig's 1,686 carries is the most in team history, nineteen more than Hall Of Famer Joe "Jet" Perry.

His 7,064 rushing yards is the second most, 1,525 yards behind Perry, and his 50 rushing touchdowns are the second most, 18 behind Perry.

His 508 receptions are the most by any RB in Niners history, and the third most overall in team history.

Roger Craig may be a borderline Hall Of Fame candidate to some, but he is one of the finest players to have ever worn a 49ers jersey.

Ricky Watters, JD Smith, Johnny Strzykalski, and Garrison Hearst deserve mention.

Wide Receiver: Gene Washington

Gene was drafted in the first round of the 1969 NFL Draft by San Francisco, the 16th player chosen overall. This was two years after the Minnesota Vikings drafted a wide receiver named Gene Washington with their first round pick.

In fact, both Gene Washingtons played in the Pro Bowl together on the same team two seasons in a row.

The 49ers version got out to a fast start, making the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. He caught 196 passes over that time, while scoring 31 times. His ability to get deep opened up the Niners offense, which allowed the team to win the NFC West from 1970 to 1972.

Washington's best season was his second. He led the NFL with 1,100 receiving yards and an 84.6 receiving yards per game average. Both were career-high marks, as were his 12 touchdowns caught and 53 receptions.

He did lead the NFL with 12 touchdowns caught in 1972, as he made the Pro Bowl for the last time of his career.

The 49ers went then went through a series of quarterbacks like Tom Owen, Steve Spurrier, Jim Plunkett, and Steve DeBerg. The team struggled, but Washington was able to produce the times the ball reached him.

He led the NFL with a 21.2 yards per catch average in 1974, and continued to be the team's best deep threat.

Washington joined the Detroit Lions in 1979. There was yet another wide receiver named Gene Washington in the league that year, this time with the New York Giants.

Reuniting with former Niners head coach Monte Clark, Washington came off the bench to try and help a young and struggling Lions team. He caught the last score of his career on a career-low 14 receptions. He then retired.

After working on television, Washington began to work in the front offices of the NFL. He is currently the director of football operations for the league.

Washington's 371 career receptions are still the fifth most by any WR in team history, and his 59 receiving touchdowns are the third most in team history.

His 6,664 receiving yards are the fourth most in team history, just 86 yards behind Dwight Clark on 135 less catches.

His career average of 18 yards per catch is the best in franchise history by anyone with more than 41 receptions.

Alyn Beals, Gordie Soltau (a member of the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame), Dave Parks, Terrell Owens, Freddie Soloman, Dwight Clark, John Taylor, Bernie Casey (also a famous actor), and RC "Alley Oop" Owens all deserve mention.

RC Owens was a high leaper who blocked field goal kicks, and invented the "alley-oop" pass with Hall Of Fame Quarterback Y.A. Tittle. The "alley -oop" term was used to describe them first, and later used in basketball.

Beals was one of the Niners' first stars. He led the league in touchdown receptions in each of his first four years, totaling 46 over that time. He was out of football just two years later, but he never fumbled the ball once in his 211 career receptions and his 49 career receiving TD's are still tied with Billy Wilson as the third most in team history.

Gene Washington fumbled just twice in his career, and is very underrated. He was on teams that were good at first, but struggled for the last five years he was with the 49ers.

Washington's ability to be effective and productive is a testimony on what an excellent player he was.

Wide Receiver: Billy Wilson

First of all, let me say Billy is a future CCC profilee. The fact he has yet to be inducted into Canton is truly disgusting, and proves the media who votes for inductions know NOTHING about the game.

He was a 22nd round draft choice of the 49ers in 1950, and was the 283rd player chosen overall. After making the team, he was used sporadically as rookie. Wilson caught 18 balls and scored three times in nine games played.

After matching his touchdown and games played totals on 23 receptions the next season, Wilson exploded on the NFL in 1952.

He led the NFL with a career-high 10 touchdown receptions, and gained 840 yards on 51 receptions.

Wilson made his first Pro Bowl the next year, leading the NFL with 60 receptions. He also gained 830 yards and scored five times.

He would make the Pro Bowl the next five seasons as well.

Wilson gained 831 yards on 53 receptions, scoring seven times in 1954.

He led the NFL with 60 receptions again in 1955, gaining a career best 889 yards and scoring five times. He also took one touchdown a career-long 77 yards.

Wilson led the NFL with 52 catches the next year, as well as leading the league with a 68.8 yards gained receiving per game average. He also gained 757 yards and scored six times. He did the despite missing a game due to injuries.

His injury woes continued in 1957, as he missed three games. He still managed to grab 43 balls and score fives times.

Wilson played 1- games the next year and caught 44 passes. He also scored four times. This would be his last year as a Pro Bowl player.

Injuries caught up to him by 1959. He was able to play just four games, catching three balls and the last touchdown of his career.

Wilson's 407 receptions career receptions are still the fourth most by any WR in team history, and his 5,902 yards are fifth most.

His 49 career receiving TDs are still tied with Alyn Beals as the third most in team history.

Billy Wilson was a special player. Hall of Famer Don Shula was a defensive back who faced him. Shula says Wilson was so good that he could have been great in the modern game as well.

Bill Walsh, another Hall Of Famer, tried to champion Wilson's induction into Canton for years. Walsh is on record saying it was a long overdue honor.

Though I am hopeful this respect will soon be given, I couldn't imagine anyone but Billy in this slot on my team.

Tight End: Brent Jone

Ted Kwalick surely deserves mention, and could easily win this spot. He is the only TE in 49ers history to be named All-NFL in a season.

Brent was a fifth round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1986, the 135th player chosen overall. He did not make the team, and was out of the league that season.

Jones was signed as a free agent in 1987 by the 49ers, and caught two passes in the four games he appeared in.

The 1988 season saw him catch eight balls in the 10 games he played in. Two went for the first touchdowns of his career.

San Francisco went on to win Super Bowl XXIII that season.

Jones became a starter the next year, and player every game. He caught 40 balls and scored four times.

The 49ers repeated as champions by winning Super Bowl XXIV.

Now firmly entrenched as the starter, Jones snagged 56 receptions for a career best 747 yards and five touchdowns the next season.

His first Pro Bowl season was in 1992. He had 45 receptions for 628 yards and four scores.

Jones made the Pro Bowl the next three seasons. He had a career best 68 receptions in 1993, and a career best nine touchdowns in 1994.

San Francisco won Super Bowl XXIX, their fifth title.

In his last Pro Bowl season, after 1995, Jones had 60 receptions.

He caught 62 passes and three touchdowns over the next two seasons, despite missing eight games due to injuries.

He then retired at the conclusion of the 1997 season.

Jones' 417 career receptions for 5,195 yards and 33 touchdowns are the most by any TE in team history.

Monty Stickles and Russ Francis also deserve mention.

Tackle: Harris Barton

Harris was San Francisco's first round draft choice in 1987, the 22nd player chosen overall.

Barton's rookie season saw him start nine of the 12 games he appeared in during his rookie year.

He started in every game but one the next season, and the 49ers would end up winning Super Bowl XXIII.

San Francisco repeated as champions the following year, and Barton played in every game.

In 1990, Barton moved inside to played guard on the right side. He moved back to RT the next year after Bubba Paris was released and Steve Wallace moved over to fill his spot.

In 1992, Barton was injured in the 13th game and missed the rest of the season.

He was named First Team All-Pro, but was unable to play in the Pro Bowl game.

Barton was named First Team All-Pro again the next season, and played in his only Pro Bowl game.

San Francisco won Super Bowl XXIX in 1994, though Barton was only able to play in nine games due to injury.

He missed seven games over the next two years because of injuries, then decided to retire at the conclusion of the 1996 season.

His two First Team All-Pro nods is tied with Forrest Blue as the most by any offensive lineman in franchise history.

Harris Barton is not only one of the finest offensive tackles to have ever suited up for the 49ers, he is the answer to the trivia question of being the only recorded spectator to have witnessed both Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds break the MLB home run record in person.

Tackle: Len Rohde

Len was a fifth round draft choice by San Francisco in 1960, the 59th player chosen overall.

He spent his first three seasons as a reserve, though he did start five games for injured Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair at RT in 1963.

Rohde was named the starting LT the next year, and would hold into that spot until he retired after the 1974 season.

He would never miss a game or a start in that entire time.

Rohde, who was in charge of protecting quarterback John Brodie's blind side, was an important cog in an potent offense.

San Francisco led the NFL in points scored twice during Rohde's tenure, and the NFC once more. They also led the NFL in passing yards twice, and the NFC two additional times.

Rohde also was part of an offense that led the NFL in total yards gained once, as well as the NFC an additional time.

San Francisco won the NFC West three times from 1970 to 1972, losing in the NFC Championship Game twice.

Rohde was recognized for his sound work in 1970, when he was named to his only Pro Bowl.

In 1969, the UPI named him to their All-NFL Second Team..

Len Rohde was a stalwart in an excellent 49ers offense for 11 years. He was sound and dependable.

He is also one of the best offensive tackles in franchise history.

Kevin Gogan, John Thomas, Steve Wallace, and Walt Rock deserve mention.

Guard: Howard Mudd

Howard was the 49ers ninth round draft pick in 1964, the 113th player chosen overall.

He spent his rookie season as a reserve, but earned the starting job the next year.

Mudd was named to the Pro Bowl in 1966, and would repeat this achievement the next two seasons as well.

He was named First Team All-Pro in 1968.

The 49ers traded Mudd to the Chicago Bears after the fifth game in 1969, and he played nine games with the Bears.

Mudd injured his knee in the tenth game of the 1971 season, and retired from the game.

His three Pro Bowls are tied with Randy Cross as the second most by any guard in team history.

Howard Mudd has been an offensive line coach in the NFL for the last 33 years, and with the Indianapolis Colts since 1998.

Guard : Guy McIntyre

Guy was drafted in the third round by the 49ers in 1984, the 73rd player chosen overall.

He spent his rookie year as a reserve, and being used as an extra blocker in the backfield on short yardage situations.

The 49ers ended up the season by winning Super Bowl XIX.

In the game, McIntyre attempted to run a kickoff late in the second quarter and fumbled. Miami ended up kicking a field goal, scoring their last points of the game.

McIntyre started two games the next season, and scored a touchdown off of a fumble recovery.

After starting another two games in 1986, McIntyre was named a starter for the next year.

That season ended abruptly, and he played just three games.

The 1988 season saw him start in 12 games, and catch a 17 yard touchdown pass.

San Francisco ended up winning Super Bowl XXIII that year.

They won the Super Bowl again the following season, and McIntyre was named to the Pro Bowl despite starting in just 13 of the 16 games he played.

He would achieve this honor the next four seasons, and not miss a game or start during this span.

After joining the Green Bay Packers in 1994, he started in all 10 games he played.

McIntyre then joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 1995.

After starting all 16 games that season, he started in just two the following year. He also caught a four yard pass.

He then retired from the game.

Guy McIntyre's five Pro Bowls are tied with Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair as the most by any offensive lineman in team history.

Bruno Banducci, Woody Peoples, Kevin Gogan, Randy Cross, and Jesse Sapolu all deserve mention.

Center : Forrest Blue

Forrest was the 49ers' first round draft selection in 1968, and was the 15th player chosen overall.

After spending his rookie year on the bench, he was named a starter the next season.

He started in every game he played until 1974, and missed just two games over that time.

Blue was the centerpiece of an offensive line that led an explosive offense to three straight NFC West titles from 1970 to 1972.

The offense also led the NFL in yards total gained and points scored in 1970.

San Francisco led the NFL in passing yards in 1969, and the NFC in that category in 1970 and 1972.

Blue was named to his first Pro Bowl in 1971, and would continue to attain this honor until 1974.

He was named First Team All-Pro in both 1971and 1972.

During the 1971 season, Blue scooped up a fumble and rambled 25 yards for the only touchdown of his career.

Blue joined the Baltimore Colts in 1975, and backed up Ken Mendenhall until he retired at the conclusion of the 1978 season.

The Colts would win the AFC East from 1975 to 1977 during that time.

Forrest Blue was a unique center for his era, standing at 6'6'' tall. His height would be considered rare even today for his position.

The fact he was named to the Pro Bowl in an era where multiple Pro Bowl centers excelled like Len Hauss, of the Washington Redskins, Mick Tinglehoff, of the Minnesota Vikings, Jeff Van Note, of the Atlanta Falcons, Ed Flanagan, of the Detroit Lions, Rich Saul, of the Los Angeles Rams and Tom Banks, of the Saint Louis Cardinals shows how good of a player he was.

His four Pro Bowls are the most by any center in team history, and his two First Team All-Pro honors are tied with Harris Barton as the most by any lineman in 49ers history.

Bruce Bosley, Bill Johnson, and Fred Quillan all deserve mention.

Kick Returner : Abe Woodson

Abe was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 1957 draft, the 15th player chosen overall.

Woodson intercepted 19 balls, and recovered 15 fumbles, in his nine year career for the 49ers as a cornerback.

He also brought the bump and run technique to the NFL.

However, he may have made his biggest mark as a return specialist.

Woodson didn't play much in his rookie season, but he was stellar from the next year on.

He would be an All Pro from 1959 to 1963.

In 1959, he led the NFL in kickoff return average with 29.5. He also had a NFL long return of 105 yards, which resulted in his first career touchdown.

He averaged 29.3 yards per kick return the following year, and led the NFL in punt return average with a career best 13.4. He also had the most punt return yards that year, with 174 yards. His 48 yard return via a punt also led the league.

Woodson averaged 10.8 yards per punt return in 1961. He returned one punt 80 yards for a score. Abe also averaged 29 yards per kickoff return, and scored on a 98 yard return.

Woodson then led the NFL with 37 kickoff returns, a career best 1,157 yards returned, and a 31.3 average in 1962.

He also had an NFL long 85 yard punt return, which culminated in his last punt return touchdown of his career.

Woodson also scored the only defensive touchdown of his career that year, when he took a fumble in for a score.

Abe scored an NFL leading three kickoff return touchdowns the next season, and led the NFL with a career best 32.2 average.

Woodson continued to be one of the best kick returners in the league the next two seasons, before giving up the duties for his final season in 1966.

Abe Woodson retired with a defensive TD, two TD's off punt returns, and five more off of kickoff returns.

His career average of 28.69 yards per kickoff return ranks third all time in NFL history.

Abe Woodson led the NFL in kickoff return average three times, which is an NFL record.

Dexter Carter, Dave Williams, Allen Rossum, and James Owens all deserve mention.

1 comment:

afrankangle said...

Great stuff here and thanks for taking me down memory lane.

Brodie was also a good golfer as he played on the early days of the PGA Senior Tour.