The 49ers have always been one of the best NFL teams in history. They were the first team to win 5 Super Bowls, and during the 80s, they were considered the best of the best. 4 of the 5 Super Bowls they won were in that flamboyant era, and as you can expect, most of their amazing players come from that time too.


Jerry Rice – Wide Receiver – From 1985 until 2000

Rice first entered the scene in 1985. The NFL draft picks took him at 16th place which was an understatement for who he would become.

Rice was considered the best wide receiver of his time, and many still consider him the best in all of NFL history. With him on deck, the 49ers won 3 Super Bowls.

Rice also broke a franchise record by attending 11 All-Pro teams from his 16 seasons with the 49ers.

Even today, some of the amazing records he achieved in that time still hold true. Rice has the most career receptions ever – 1,549. The most career receiving yards – 22,895. The most career receiving touchdowns – 197. The most all-purpose yards – 23,546, and the most career touchdowns in total – 208.

Rice left the team in 2000, and left the NFL in 2005, and yet these records still stand strong today!

That’s how much of an impact this player had.


Joe Montana – Quarterback – From 1979 until 1992

Montana was also around during the 80s boom. In fact, many people of the time would consider Montana the driving force behind the 4 80s wins. 

His nickname was “Joey Cool” because he always had a cool head on his shoulders and was a charismatic guy.

In the 4 Super Bowl wins, Montana won the MVP award 3 times. He also won the best offensive player award  and the best comeback player award during this amazing decade too.

The end of the 80s was the best time in Montana’s career.


Steve Young – Quarterback – From 1987 until 1999

Young didn’t start his career as a 49er. Instead, he was picked first in round one for the Los Angeles Express. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry. The team only lasted 2 years before flopping.

Young was a high-class player on a drowning team.

As the team was creating financial-based drama, Young took his leave and rushed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. High hopes for Young were quickly squashed, as he took the team out of their no-loss streak. 

Young was sold on again, and this time landed with a team who understood him – the 49ers. He shocked the fans and became one of the best slingers in NFL history.

Young quickly won awards left, right, and center, including the best offensive player, NFL MVP, and Super Bowl MVP.

Young quickly became a dual-threat quarterback, leaving in touchdown passes, pass competition rates, and becoming a 7-time Pro Bowler and 6-time All-Pro.


Ronnie Lott – Cornerback Safety – From 1981 until 1990 and 1995

Lott started his career with the 49ers, and he ended it with us too. Lott was there for the 4 Super Bowl wins, and he set the stage for all defense strategies for years to come. Most of the strategic moves we see on the field today come from Lott.


Patrick Willis – Linebacker – From 2007 until 2014

Willis is our first amazing player who wasn’t part of the 80s crowd. Willis led the NFL in tackles, even from his rookie year. He had a routinely strong defensive stance. He would have entered the Hall of Fame if he hadn’t retired so early.


Joe Staley – Offensive Tackle – From 2007 until 2019

During the 10s, the 49ers were going through a lot of ups and downs, but Staley was their main consistent force. Sure he was there for the losing seasons (and we mean the really awful ones), but those failures weren’t his fault.

Without Staley, the team would have plummeted into the bottom of the barrel. Staley was the lifejacket to a poor team.


Bryant Young – Defensive Tackle – From 1994 until 2007

Young is another record holder for the 49ers. He has completed the most safeties in a season – 2. Granted this record is tied with another player, and the figure is low, but the fact that only one other player can boast this record should tell you just how rare it is.


Roger Craig – Running Back – From 1983 until 1990

Craig won 3 of the 5 Super Bowls and although his stats never showed much, Craig’s tactics are what secured his position on this leaderboard. He could catch out any backfield play and stole more than he could carry.


Frank Gore – Running Back – From 2005 until 2014

Gore holds the record for the most games played by a running back – 241.


Terrel Owens – Wide Receiver – From 1996 until 2003

Owen was an unsung legend of his time. If you ever watch reruns of the 49ers of this era, keep an eye on Owen. Trust us, it’s worth it.


Final Thoughts

The 49ers have had so many amazing players on their team. It was a struggle to narrow it down to only 10!