San Francisco 49ers: 49ers All-Time Defense

Mihir Bhagat@mihirbhagatSenior Analyst IIIApril 14, 2011

San Francisco 49ers: 49ers All-Time Defense

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    The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most decorated franchises in NFL history. They hold traditions, have won five Super Bowls and have, all in all, revolutionized the game of football.

    One of the most important aspect of the organization's success has been its long list of talented players, including their 17 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees.

    Whether they be from the team's early days, ones from their championship years or those from the present, the 49ers have produced numerous skilled players throughout their existence.

    While their offense has typically been under the spotlight, let us not forget the defensive stars they had as well,

    Therefore, in honor of the team's greats, I've decided to compile a ranking of the All-Time 49ers defense.  

LE Fred Dean

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    The San Francisco 49ers traded for Fred Dean and he went on to have a very successful tenure with the team.

    He was one of the best at generating an effective pass rush and had 93 sacks on his career primarily because he possessed a unique combination of speed, quickness and strength.

    He was a huge reason the team was able to win multiple Super Bowls and he went on to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

DT Bryant Young

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    SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 23: Bryant Young #97 of the San Francisco 49ers walks to the lockerroom against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during an NFL game at Monster Park on December 23, 2007 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Despite playing most of his career during the 49ers' down years, Bryant Young was a dominant force off the edge as he holds the franchise record with 89.5 sacks.

    In my opinion, he’s severely underrated.

    On the side, his off-the-field efforts are what make him a great member of the 49ers organization. 

DT Leo Nomellini

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    Leo Nomellini was the San Francisco 49ers' first draft choice in franchise history, and it certainly set the good fortunes for years to come.

    Nomellini was an All-Pro on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

    Probably most impressive was the fact that he never missed a game during his 14-year career, which earned him the tag 'indestructible.'

RE/OLB Charles Haley

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    Charles Haley was one of the most versatile defensive players of his time as he possessed the unique ability to generate an effective pass rush from both the outside linebacker and defensive end position. For his career, Haley had 100.5 sacks.

    Still today, he is the only NFL player to win five Super Bowls, which is truly a remarkable feat.

    Interestingly enough, his resume hasn't been enough to claim him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame yet.

LOLB Dave Wilcox

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    Dave Wilcox had a very successful career in the NFL, as he was elected to seven Pro Bowls and was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

    Of course, this was rightfully so as Wilcox established himself as one of the premier outside linebackers of his time. By doing so, he earned himself the nickname "The Intimidator."

    It was well documented that Wilcox made it his goal to prevent any player from getting off for a block or pass route. He always enjoyed being in pursuit and involved in the action

MLB Patrick Willis

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    Ever since being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, Patrick Willis has emerged as one of the premier defensive players in the NFL. In fact, he's arguably the best in the business today.

    He possesses tremendous athleticism, remarkable instincts and incredible passion for the game. That being so, he's able to produce at every level of the game, making an impact all over the field.

    There's no doubt in my mind that he's going to be much higher up on this list in the future.

ROLB Keena Turner

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    The San Francisco 49ers traded for Keena Turner on draft day, and it has proved to be a wise decision.

    Turner played his entire career with the team and helped them win four Super Bowl rings.

    Even after he retired, he continued to serve the organization as an announcer and currently as the VP of Football Affairs. 

CB Jimmy Johnson

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    Jimmy Johnson played an incredible 15 seasons in the NFL, all of which he played with the San Francisco 49ers.

    He was a versatile talent who played at safety, wide receiver and corneback. During his career, he finished with 47 interceptions and returned them for a total of 615 yards.

    The five-time Pro Bowler and member of the 1970s All-Decade team was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

CB Dwight Hicks

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    Dwight Hicks quickly transitioned into the NFL, and became the leader of the San Francisco 49ers secondary during their dynasty in the '80s. 

    He registered 32 career interceptions and made several big plays in route to their two Super Bowl wins.

    Probably the most memorable came against the Bengals when he made a clutch interception at the goal-line which prevented the opposition from scoring and would ultimately set-up a touchdown drive.

    In his illustrious career, he finished with 32 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries and four touchdowns. Needless to say, he made plenty of big-time plays in his day.

FS Merton Hanks

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    Due to a slow combine 40-yard dash time, Merton Hanks took a significant dip in the NFL draft rankings.

    However, he proved his naysayers wrong by becoming a five-time All-Pro and making big-time interceptions and returns throughout his career.

    In addition, he was well-known for his interesting celebrations including the 'Funky Chicken Dance.'

CB/S Ronnie Lott

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    28 Jan 1990:   Defensive back Ronnie Lott of the San Francisco 49ers observes the action during Super Bowl XXIV against the Denver Broncos at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The 49ers won the game, 55-10. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Whether he lined up at cornerback, free safety or strong safety, Ronnie Lott was one of the most feared hitters of all time. He set the tempo for the 49ers defense and was a force to reckon with in the secondary.

    He was a complete player as he assisted in both defending the pass and stopping the run. 

    Furthermore, he was elected as a member of both the 1980s and '90s All-Decade teams.