Center: Bill Reid (1975)
Guards: Tim Hanshaw (1996-1998), Chilo Rachal (2008-2011)
Offensive Tackles: Anthony Clement (2005), Jonas Jennings (2005-2008), Kwame Harris (2003-2007)
Yes, I realize that there are three tackles listed. Well, they are just that bad and need to be described in further detail. In a way, each of them warranted the need to construct this list.
Thankfully, the 49ers currently boast one of the best offensive lines in football. Yet, many fans can clearly recall years in which the offensive line was a disaster. Sadly, a number of those players make this list. Even worse, some of them were playing alongside each other.
Bill Reid, Center
It is not totally fair to have Bill Reid on this list. First of all, he had to fill the void left by perennial Pro Bowler Forrest Blue entering the 1975 season. Then Randy Cross took over the starting job in 1976 and stayed there until 1978 before moving to guard through 1986.
Furthermore, the 49ers have enjoyed a number of solid centers over the years, including Jesse Sapolu, Fred Quillan, Jeremy Newberry and now Jonathan Goodwin.
The only bad part of Reid's career was that it was very short. He played only one season with the 49ers and was gone by the 1976 season. Yet, in 1975 the 49ers were not that good, going 5-9 under head coach Dick Nolan (yes, his son has already been mentioned). The offensive line was a part of the problem, giving up 33 sacks over the course of the season.
Reid was not a part of the solution and was not good enough to warrant sticking around any longer.
Tim Hanshaw, Guard
Similar to Reid, Hanshaw is tough to put on this list. No worries, though—there are plenty of disappointments to come.
What warrants Hanshaw's placement is the fact that the 6'5", 300-pound lineman should have been a better product in the NFL. Coming out of BYU and drafted by the 49ers in the fourth round of the 1995 draft, San Francisco should have gotten at least something out of him.
Unfortunately, the 49ers offensive line was already in great shape, and Hanshaw was relegated to backup duty, starting only three games during his three-year 49er career.
After his term expired, nobody else around the league liked what they saw and Hanshaw's NFL playing days were all but over.
Chilo Rachal, Guard
The guy San Francisco drafted before Chilo Rachal is already on this list: Kentwan Balmer. Rachal backs him up.
Looking at the 2008 49ers draft class, one might have to wonder what exactly San Francisco was thinking. Well, it was still the Mike Nolan era until the middle of the season, and despite having a number of decent draft selections in years prior, it is safe to say that the 49ers whiffed on this draft.
Rachal was no exception. Taken in the second round with the 39th overall pick, Rachal was supposed to be a boon to an offensive line that was prone to giving up sacks to then-quarterback Alex Smith.
Yet, Rachal turned into a tremendous bust, struggling to retain a starting job during his four years with the 49ers. Blocking was a serious problem, and Rachal struggled with his consistency for his entire tenure.
Steve Busichio of Niners Nation sums up Rachal's problems and the frustration felt by many San Francisco fans by writing, "Chilo Rachal? In short, he couldn't block a friend on Facebook if he wanted to."
Those may be pretty harsh words, but they are accurate.
For some reason, Rachal was able to stick around with the 49ers through the 2011 season. By that point, new head coach Jim Harbaugh had seen enough and was willing to admit San Francisco's mistake by opening up competition at the position.
As a result, and thankfully so, Rachal was gone at the end of the year.
Anthony Clement, Tackle
The good news: Anthony Clement was only around for one season. The bad news: Anthony Clement was a 49er for one season.
This is another one of those signings that highlights the mess of a situation San Francisco was in at the start of the 2005 season. Head coach Mike Nolan brought Clement in for reasons that are still unknown to this writer. True, Clement had a decent tenure with the Arizona Cardinals after they drafted him in the second round back in 1998, but his lone season with the 49ers was a disaster.
If there is any consolation for this abysmal 49er, it is the fact that he only started six times over the course of the 2005 season. Considering how bad San Francisco's offensive line was that year, Clement not retaining a starting job speaks volumes. Clement's departure at year's end says even more.
The 49ers were unquestionably bidding him good riddance when he left.
Jonas Jennings, Tackle
I remember being excited about the 49ers' signing of Jonas Jennings. Needless to say, I was wrong about that one.
The year was 2005 and San Francisco was a complete mess. Do we notice a trend here? Jennings was brought in as a free agent by Mike Nolan in an attempt to bolster the offensive line. Much like Anthony Clement in the same year, the 49ers were hoping to get a veteran tackle who could solve the myriad problems San Francisco's offensive line had been experiencing.
The signing appeared to be a smart move at the outset.
Jennings had a solid start to his career in Buffalo and looked like he would be able to carry that same success over to the 49ers. Yet, after starting the first three games of the season, Jennings was placed on injured reserve and missed the remainder of the year.
Injuries and personal issues were a reoccurring theme with Jennings during his 49er career. Despite his talents, Jennings was unable to ever play a full season with the 49ers and played a mere 23 games in San Francisco over his four-year tenure.
When asked about his injuries by CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco (via ninersnation.com), Jennings defended himself by saying:
Being hurt [?] I don't worry about things I don't control. People say this and say that, but everything I've been out for I've had to have surgery for. What can I do about that? Two shoulder surgeries, hand, ankles. If you play a violent game violently, man, of course something's going to come out of it. But I can't stop this guy from rolling me up in the back. That stuff is unavoidable. If I got caught up in that and worried about all of that, I'd probably have same amount of gray hairs you have.
San Francisco's experiment with Jennings had run its course at the end of the 2008 season, and Jennings was let go, much to the delight of 49er fans and writers.
Had he stayed healthy, Jennings may have been a bright spot during San Francisco's dark years. Injuries, however, thwarted that possibility.
Kwame Harris, Tackle
49ers tackle Kwame Harris is the principle reason behind the writing of this article. He may be a top candidate for the worst 49er of all time according to some opinions.
What makes Harris' story so spectacular is that he was actually highly touted out of Stanford. Entering the 2003 NFL draft, Harris was ranked as the second highest tackle according to NFL Draft Scout.
Judging by that alone, a first-round draft selection would make sense for the 49ers. They needed to get younger and there were salary-cap issues. A player like Harris seemed to make perfect sense.
Hindsight states otherwise.
We do have to give Harris some credit. He was a good run-blocker. He was consistently healthy. Yet, his positive attributes end there.
Harris was known for many things on the field and almost all of them were bad. He was atrocious in pass protection, terribly prone to bad penalties, and he never came anywhere close to becoming a top offensive lineman like his first-round draft status would suggest.
According to STATS, Inc., Harris allowed 8.5 sacks in 2006 with four holding penalties and one false start. The season before, Harris allowed 9.5 sacks and committed 15 penalties, seven of them false starts (via USA Today).
The befuddling part of Harris' career with the 49ers is the fact that he was able to stay on the roster for five seasons. It did not take long for San Francisco's coaches to realize that he would never develop into the player they had hoped for. Thankfully, however, Harris was relegated to backup duty in 2007 when then-rookie Joe Staley took over the starting job.
Perhaps analysts can examine the fact that the 49ers were abysmal during Harris' tenure. Maybe that is why he stuck around for so long, yet there must have been better options somewhere. Too bad the 49er brass held on to the notion that Harris may turn into something at some point.
He never did.
Harris left the 49ers after the season hoping for a fresh start in Oakland, where he signed a three-year, $16 million deal. Yet, even the Raiders realized that Harris was not worth their time, and the team cut him after only one season.
His legacy in San Francisco remains as being one of the least popular and abysmal players in franchise history. If there was a poster boy for the all-bad team, Harris could easily fit the bill.
David Bass, Guard/Center (2005-2010): Sure, he was not terrible, but as a high second-round pick, he should have been much better. He struggled to earn a starting job and never turned into the player the 49ers hoped for.
Walt Downing, Guard (1978-1983): This second-round pick had only one starting season—his rookie year. Needless to say, he underachieved.
Ron Singleton, Tackle (1977-1980): He may have been a victim of poor circumstance rather than performance. San Francisco was bad during this stretch, and he never developed with the team, leading to his retirement after five NFL seasons (four with the 49ers).