NFL

San Francisco 49ers’ Mount Rushmore

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The San Francisco 49ers have one of the richest traditions in all of sports, not just football. As a franchise, the 49ers boast five Super Bowl championships, which is only one behind the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have the most with six.

For an organization to have several Super Bowl banners, there has to be elite talent coming through and these four players are nothing less than that.

Joe Montana – Where do you start?

Joe Montana is regarded as the best 49ers player to ever live, but he’s also in the discussion for being the best player to ever play the game.

Montana led San Francisco to four of their five championships, while winning Super Bowl MVP an incredible three times.

However, this legendary quarterback wasn’t highly sought after when he entered the NFL Draft from Notre Dame, even though he did win a National Championship during his time in South Bend.

Montana was selected with the 82nd overall pick of the 1979 NFL Draft.

To say he proved many wrong would be the understatement of the century.

The Pennsylvania native won two league MVPs, earned eight Pro Bowl appearances and was a First-Team All-Pro three times.

Jerry Rice – From arguably the best quarterback of all-time to the best wide receiver to ever play the game.

It was only right to follow up Montana with none other than Jerry Rice.

Unlike Montana, Rice came into the league with fairly high expectations, as he was selected with the 16th overall pick of the 1985 draft.

Having said that, no one could’ve ever predicted him to end up being the best to ever play his position from small school Mississippi Valley State.

How can you predict that?

Rice is a three-time Super Bowl champion, winning MVP honors in Super Bowl XXIII.

He is the all-time leader in receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895), receiving touchdowns (197) and all purpose yards (23,546).

Oh yeah, Rice was not only named to the NFLs 1980’s All-Decade Team, but he’s a part of the NFLs 1990’s All-Decade Team as well.

That right there is a true testament to Rice’s longevity.

Ronnie Lott – During Ronnie Lott’s 15-year career, he played for four teams, but he will always be remembered as a 49er before anything else.

After being a consensus All-American at the University of Southern California, Lott was taken with the eighth-overall pick in the 1981 draft and he surely lived up the hype and then some.

Lott was a 10-time Pro Bowler, 8-time First-Team All-Pro and four-time Super Bowl champion.

Furthermore, when mentioning Lott, you often hear about his hard-hitting ability, but you don’t hear about how he led the league in interceptions twice.

The six foot defensive back was an all-around player.

Just like Rice, Lott is a member of the all 80’s and 90’s teams.

Steve Young – When Montana’s playing days in the Bay Area were up, all the pressure went to Steve Young.

Being the guy to ‘replace’ Montana has to come with tons of stress and anxiety, but Young did as well as anyone could ever hope for.

After Montana’s reign, Young led San Francisco to a Super Bowl XXIX victory over the San Diego Chargers, in which Young earned MVP honors that game.

It doesn’t stop there.

Young won league MVP twice, appeared in eight Pro Bowls and led the league in passing touchdowns four times.

Considering all of the success Montana had, Young is often overlooked in the hierarchy of prestigious quarterbacks, but he needs to be mentioned in that conversation more often.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.