One Player on Each Team Who San Francisco 49ers Fans Hate to See
For NFL fans there is no more loyal a relationship than the one they have with their team.
It is a bond so strong that it brings them to paint their faces with the organization's colors, wear costumes normally seen only on Halloween and intensely argue over which player cost the team in their latest loss.
However, this attachment also brings with it a hatred of other teams players.
In San Francisco, the fans are considered to be some of the most loyal in the entire league. Even with their tremendous success this season there are still players they hate to see play against their beloved 49ers.
Any player that has recently caused heartache or consistently presents problems for the red and gold is someone fans would rather not watch.
Here is one player from each organization that the Niner faithful prefer to do without:
Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald
Aside from Fitzgerald there are few dangerous players on the Cardinals. He is regarded as one of the best wideouts in the game and 49ers fans understand that fact all too well. In 2011 he had 10 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns against San Francisco. In the December 11th matchup, he was the main reason the Cardinals handed the red and gold one of their three regular season losses.
Seattle Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch
Heading into their second to last game of the year, the 49ers defense had not given up one rushing touchdown nor let a running back gain over 100 yards. In fact, the San Francisco D hadn’t allowed a single rusher to eclipse the century mark since Week 11 of 2009.
Marshawn Lynch stopped both streaks.
Lynch’s legs and aggressive running style make him a player who 49ers fans would rather not deal with.
St. Louis Rams: Steven Jackson
The 49ers run defense was the best in the league this past season. But when they played the Rams, Jackson was a player to worry about. Similar to Lynch, Jackson has a very powerful running style. However, he also has breakout speed that allows him to be a scary presence.
New York Giants: Victor Cruz
Unless he leaves New York to play for San Francisco at some point in his career, fans of the red and gold probably would be fine never seeing Victor Cruz again. In the NFC Championship game, Cruz grabbed 10 passes for 142 yards. In their regular season matchup, he had six catches for 84 yards. With those kind of numbers, 49ers fans will always hate to see him play against their team.
Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Vick
As inconsistent as Michael Vick was during 2011, he had one of his best performances against the Niners. With his ability to throw and run he is a constant threat inside and outside the pocket. Even though the 49ers won in Philadelphia this year, fans are still weary of Vick’s abilities to turn nothing into something.
Dallas Cowboys: Miles Austin
If there wasn’t already enough hatred between the Cowboys and 49ers fans, Miles Austin added to the fire with his three touchdown, 143 yard performance in San Francisco this past year. In a game ultimately decided in overtime, Austin kept bringing Dallas back from deficits.
He is a pesky wideout with good hands and speed who will continue to give fans fits as long as he remains in the league.
Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan
A little talked about linebacker for Washington had a very strong rookie season. In playing every snap in the Redskins’ 16 games, Ryan Kerrigan recorded 70 tackles, 7.5 sacks and had 42 quarterback pressures. Although he is not worthy of the parallel yet, if Kerrigan continues such production he will be a force the 49ers faithful will fear as much as opponents’ fans cringe at Patrick Willis.
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers is a threat to do anything with the football at anytime. He is the kind of quarterback that fans outside of Green Bay hate to see because he is so versatile. With him on the field the Packers are never out of a game. In his four years as a starter, he has passed for over 3,900 yards and rushed for more than 200 in each season.
Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson
There are so many parts to Calvin Johnson and his game that 49ers fans have good reason to want to avoid him. Standing at 6’5”, 236 pounds, Johnson is physically one of the largest receivers in the league. That alone makes him scary. However, he also has tremendous hands and leaping ability that truly make him an elite wideout.
Chicago Bears: Brian Urlacher
When opposing fans think of the San Francisco defense, the first face they think of is Patrick Willis. When 49ers fans look at the Chicago Bears' roster, the player they hate to see is Brian Urlacher. Outside of Willis and Ray Lewis, Urlacher is the scariest linebacker in the league. He is fundamentally sound, but will lay someone out if he gets the chance. With Urlacher waiting, the last thing San Francisco fans want to see is one of their receivers come across the middle against the Bears.
Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson
Although the Vikings and 49ers have not met in the regular season since 2009, it is safe to say that 49ers fans hate to see Adrian Peterson. In an organization that is largely in rebuilding mode, Peterson is the Vikings' major offensive threat. When he is on the field he is one of the best in the game, averaging nearly five yards per rush and 10 yards per reception. As good as the Niners defense is, Peterson is always a threat.
New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees
Unlike Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick, Drew Brees makes this list solely based on his arm.
With Brees’ abilities and the current state of the 49ers secondary, 49ers fans can never feel safe with a lead. This point was illustrated in this season’s NFC divisional round, where Brees twice brought the Saints from behind with under five minutes to play.
Of course Alex Smith, Vernon Davis and San Francisco ended up getting the last laugh, but it wasn’t due to Brees’ lack of ability. When he drops back in the pocket, fans of the red and gold collectively hold their breath.
Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan
Roddy White and Julio Jones are the reason Matt Ryan is a quarterback that fans fear. White, a seven year veteran, has over 1,000 yards receiving in each of his past five seasons and is the most consistent target for Ryan. Meanwhile, with over 100 yards in five games during his rookie season, Jones showed that he is going to be an electric force in his career. As long as those two remain in Atlanta, Ryan will be a signal-caller San Francisco fans will fear.
Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton
Cam Newton is similar to Michael Vick in that he can create plays with his legs as well as or better than his arm. In just his rookie year, Newton was the talk of the league. Although he cooled off in Weeks 9 through 16, he averaged over eight yards per pass and five yards per run during the first half of the season.
This kind of athleticism is scary to anyone, regardless of the strength of the defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Connor Barth
Given the pasting the 49ers put on Tampa Bay in 2011, it’s difficult to say that any one of their players strikes any fear into the San Francisco faithful. With such a flawed roster, the only player that fans could really hate to see is the one who scored against them—field goal kicker Connor Barth. This season, Barth knocked down 93 percent of his kicks, including 15 from 40 yards or more. Against a defense like the 49ers, Barth is currently the Bucs' only threat worth considering.
New England Patriots: Rob Gronkowski
Although Rob Gronkowski does not have the leaping ability of Calvin Johnson or the speed of Miles Austin, his size creates matchup problems for the 49ers. When New England has him run deep routes, San Francisco has no one who can cover the 6’6”, 265-pound tight end. In fact, few teams do, as he collected 17 TDs and 1,327 yards this season. If they could have it their way, fans of the red and gold would rather Gronkowski be injured when their team next meets up with the Patriots.
New York Jets: Darrelle Revis
Playing against an offense that already struggles to put up points, Darrelle Revis is not a welcome site for 49ers fans. As a shutdown corner he is one of the elite defensive players in the NFL. With Alex Smith under center and no major wideout target, Revis is someone San Francisco fans have to worry about.
Miami Dolphins: Kevin Burnett
Much like the Niners, the Dolphins have one of the best run-defenses in the league. A primary reason for this is Kevin Burnett, a player who some fans are probably unfamiliar with but would rather not watch. He is exactly the kind of player that feasts on the 49ers run-oriented offensive scheme. With 105 tackles in 2011, Burnett clearly has a nose for the ball carrier and would make life difficult for tailbacks Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter.
Buffalo Bills: Nick Barnett
Similar to Burnett, Nick Barnett is a linebacker whose game gives Niners fans fits.
He is a force in the middle that plugs up holes and disrupts quarterbacks.
On an otherwise mediocre Bills defense, Barnett stands out because of his tackling abilities. In nine seasons he has recorded less than 100 tackles only twice, and in those years his performance was hindered by injury.
Baltimore Ravens: Terrell Suggs
There is perhaps no one else on this list that fans of the 49ers would rather avoid than Terrell Suggs. In a season where he was named Defensive Player of the Year, Suggs had a standout performance against the red and gold.
On Thanksgiving Day, Suggs was a major disruption to the San Francisco offense. As part of the Baltimore defensive line, he brought constant pressure to the pocket and collected three of the nine sacks the Ravens had in the game.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Troy Polamalu
The long-haired 2010 Defensive Player of the Year remains one of the scariest defensive players in the NFL. In the 49ers complete 20-3 win over the Steelers in 2011, Troy Polamalu was the lone bright spot for Pittsburgh. He registered seven unassisted tackles and was one of the only strong presences for his team in that game.
Anytime Polamalu swarms towards a red and gold jersey, Niner fans can only pray for the best.
Cincinnati Bengals: AJ Green
With a 6'4" frame, AJ Green presents matchup problems for the secondary. For this reason, he is the one player on the Bengals who 49ers fans don't want to see get the football.
In their one contest in 2011, San Francisco was able to keep Green mostly under wraps by playing very physically. However, when he breaks free he is a big-play threat. He is tough to catch up to and his athleticism allows him to have a strong presence on the outside.
Cleveland Browns: Peyton Hillis
Due to constant lackluster performances from the Cleveland Browns, no one on their team stirs incredible emotion among fans.
However, if forced to choose, a healthy Peyton Hillis can be dangerous.
Without his injury last year, Hillis would have racked up his second straight season with over 1,000 yards. However, Hillis only becomes someone San Francisco followers hate to see because of his incredibly physical running style.
As a large and bruising running back, he is capable of handling multiple hits while continuing to move his feet.
Houston Texans: Andre Johnson
If he could stay healthy, Andre Johnson would be in the conversation for one of the best wide receivers in the league with Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson. However, it's difficult to be legitimately considered with those others when he has only played five full seasons in his nine-year career.
Niner fans, though, know better than to underestimate Johnson's capabilties.
In each year that he has played in all 16 regular season games, he has recorded more than 1,100 yards receiving. Against the red and gold's secondary, Johnson is very dangerous.
Tennessee Titans: Cortland Finnegan
Cortland Finnegan is the only player to make this list not based on performance. His attitude and cockiness are enough to stir hatred among 49ers fans.
In fact, he has earned a reputation as one of the dirtiest players in the league.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Marcedes Lewis
As with Rob Gronkowski, Niners fans hate to see Marcedes Lewis because of the matchup problems he presents. At 6'6" and 275 pounds, Lewis is taller than Vernon Davis by three inches and outweighs Gronkowski by ten pounds.
That puts him at a physical level that few defensive players are capable of controlling.
Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck
Choosing Andrew Luck for this position is more about the future for both the Colts and the Niners than the present.
At the NFL combine this week, Jim Harbaugh said that he enjoyed coaching Andrew Luck, but was not looking forward to playing against him. Similarly, for people in the Bay Area, they rooted for Luck while he was at Stanford but are going to hate seeing him with Indianapolis.
Regardless of what the Colts choose to do with Peyton Manning, Luck is going to be a very productive NFL quarterback in the near future. He has a tremendously accurate arm and can move in the pocket as well.
Denver Broncos: Von Miller
In 2011, Alex Smith was the most sacked quarterback in the league. Even with his ability to move in and out of the pocket, he couldn’t avoid being taken to the ground 44 times.
In just his first year in the league, Von Miller collected 11.5 sacks. That number put him in the top 10 in the NFL and was only behind Aldon Smith’s 14 for the most quarterback takedowns among rookies.
With the Niners less than stout offensive line, Miller is not a pleasant sight for fans.
Oakland Raiders: Richard Seymour
Playing right across the Bay, San Francisco fans are keenly aware of what Richard Seymour brings to the table.
Seymour is the senior statesman on the Raiders defensive line. In his career with New England and Oakland, Seymour has been regarded as a player with tremendous strength who relentlessly attacks the pocket and anyone who carries the ball.
Even at 32-year-old this past season he collected six sacks—his second most single-season total in his 11 years with the league.
San Diego Chargers: Vincent Jackson
When Niner fans think of game-changing players on the San Diego Chargers, Vincent Jackson is the first name that comes to mind. In 2011, he picked up over 1,000 yards receiving for the third time in the past four years.
Plus, in 2010 he burned the San Francisco defense for three touchdowns and 112 yards on just five catches.
Kansas City Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe
Before Kansas City announced that they would use the franchise tag on Dwayne Bowe, many 49ers fans were hoping San Francisco might try to sign the veteran wideout.
With nearly 5,000 receiving yards in his five-year career, there was good reason for the Niner faithful to want him on their team instead of playing against them.
Not an especially large player, Bowe has speed and good hands on the outside that can make him difficult to handle once he gets near the football.