The newest San Francisco 49er—cornerback Dré Bly—has played for a Super Bowl-winning St. Louis Rams team as a rookie in 1999, has been a two-time Pro Bowl selection for the Detroit Lions in 2003 and 2004, and has also led the Denver Broncos with five interceptions in 2007.
The 49er Faithful are buzzing with excitement about San Francisco's May 21, 2009 signing of Bly as a suitable replacement for the injured Walt Harris and there is a chance the 32-year old free agent could be a mainstay like the veteran Harris, shutdown corner Nate Clements who was originally drafted by the Buffalo Bills, former New Orleans Saint Toi Cook or even solid cornerback/safety Marquez Pope who signed with the 49ers after playing with the Los Angeles Rams.
There may be a possibility Bly may be a one hit wonder like Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson when they came by in 1994 and 1997 respectively during their impressive careers.
But he also could be a one strike and your out free agent bust like Antonio Langham when the 49ers signed him away from the Baltimore Ravens in 1998.
Langham was a highly touted but controversial cornerback from the University of Alabama and was selected by the original Cleveland Browns with the 9th overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft.
He was the reason Alabama hadto forfeit most of the 1993 season because he secretly signed with an agent during the previous off-season, a major violation of NCAA regulations.
Langham also signed and submitted an application to enter the 1993 NFL Draft making him ineligible to play under NCAA rules, regardless of whether or not he signed with an agent.
Additionally, head coach Gene Stallings failed to inform both the SEC and the NCAA of his draft application leading to the Crimson Tide having to forfeit a total of eight wins and a tie from the 1993 football season.
As a talented cornerback with a 6'0" 187 lb frame, Langham was physically gifted and earned Defensive Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie Team honors with the Browns in 1994 and had his best year as a pro during the 1996 season when he intercepted five passes for 59 yards for the former Browns who were now in Baltimore.
Langham is also the only player to have played for Cleveland before they became the Baltimore Ravens and returned to play for the expansion Browns franchise in 1999.
Some 49er fans remember Langham for starting six games, missing four weeks due to a left knee injury and recovering just in time to briefly appear in playoff games against the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons.
However, many remember the talented cornerback getting constantly burned for touchdowns by opposing quarterbacks because of the knee injury that eventually forced him out of action. He would play in a total of 11 games during the 1998 season with only one interception.
Versatile Darnell Walker who played both right and left cornerback would start all 16 regular season games and tied for the team lead with four interceptions.
Walker officially supplanted the former 1st round pick when Langham was not invited back to San Francisco for the 1999 season. That ended his unspectacular one year 49er career.
So before everybody thinks Dré Bly is the second coming, he could also be the next Antonio Langham.
The following slides are some of the successful veteran free agent cornerbacks the San Francisco 49ers have signed over the last 15 years.
Deion Sanders' one year as a San Francisco 49er was extremely memorable.
After five seasons with the NFC West rival Atlanta Falcons, he signed with the 49ers in 1994 and had one of his best seasons ever, racking up six interceptions for 303 yards and three touchdowns.
Sanders was also named the 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Toi Cook was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the eighth round of the 1987 NFL Draft.
The defensive back from Stanford University played in 11 NFL seasons from 1987 to 1997 and had a career high 6 interceptions for 90 yards and one touchdown with New Orleans.
He appeared in Super Bowl XXIX as a member of the 1994 San Francisco 49ers.
Cook also played outfield on Stanford's 1987 College World Series championship baseball team.
Marquez Pope was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 2nd round of the 1992 NFL Draft out of Fresno State University.
Pope played for 5 teams in 10 NFL seasons from 1992 to 2001 but his best year as a pro came as a San Francisco 49er during the 1996 season, intercepting 6 passes and 1 touchdown.
Pope is the only player in NFL history to play for every single California team (San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders).
Rod Woodson was best known for his 10-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers aand being a key member of the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl XXXV championship season.
Woodson was one of the best defensive backs in NFL history, holding records for career interception return yards with1,483, interception returns for touchdowns with 12 and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1993.
His 71 interceptions is 3rd-most in NFL history.
Woodson—who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2009—picked off 3 passes for 81 yards for the 1997 San Francisco 49ers.
Darnell Walker was a 7th round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 1993 and signed with San Francisco in 1997.
The undersized Walker ended up becoming a solid if not spectacular player in the league, playing seven seasons from 1993 to 2000 with the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions.
Nate Clements was drafted out of Ohio State by the Buffalo Bills as the 21st overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft.
On March 2, 2007, the shutdown corner became the highest paid defensive player in NFL history after signing an eight-year, $80 million with $22 million guaranteed contract with the San Francisco 49ers (since exceeded by Dwight Freeney's Indianapolis Colts' contract on Jul. 13, 2007).