V.J. Lovero-USA TODAY Sports

V.J. Lovero-USA TODAY Sports


Top Five 49ers Receivers of All Time

Sep 30, 2019 at 2:55 PM2


When Terrell Owens was inducted into the 49ers Hall of Fame on September 22, in the induction video, 49er great Jerry Rice said players who were blessed to play the wide receiver position knew they had an obligation which is to follow in the footsteps of the pass catchers before them.

"If you played wideout and had that 'SF' on your helmet, there was an expectation," Jerry Rice said in a video.

The Niners have a history of many pass-catchers who lived up to the standard, so I decided to make a list of the top 49ers wide receivers of all time who played for the scarlet and gold. The list is not about numbers and accolades but their impact on the game and how they were for the Niners. The tight end position did not make the list.

1) Jerry Lee Rice


1985-2000 career numbers: 1,281 receptions, 19,247 yards, 176 receiving TDs

"The Goat" as the top wide receiver on the list is an obvious choice. Rice dominated the league, and it started to show in his second year when he had 86 receptions for 1,570 yards and 15 touchdowns. In Rice's third year, he broke the single-season touchdown record in a strike-shortened 12 games with 22 receiving and one rushing.

Rice had a performance against the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII that ended with 11 receptions for 215 yards and a touchdown. "The GOAT" has many games which showed why he is considered the greatest, such as when he lit up the Atlanta Falcons secondary with 213 yards on 13 receptions and five touchdowns on October 14, 1990. You can also take into account a September 5, 1994, Monday-night game against the Los Angeles Raiders when Rice caught three touchdowns to break Jim Brown's all-time touchdown record.

Rice holds many all-time records. In his 16 years with the 49ers, Rice was a 12-time Pro Bowler, 10-time All-Pro, 12-time Player of the Week, member of the 1985 All-Rookie Team, 1980 and 1990 Pro Football Hall of Fame all NFL Team first-team, 1987 and 1993 NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year, 1987 Bert Bell Award winner, 1987 NFL Newspaper Entertainment Association MVP, 1987 NFL PFWA MVP and 1988 Super Bowl XXIII MVP, and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I could keep going on his accomplishments, but I think you get the point.

2) Terrell Eldorado Owens


1996-2003: 592 receptions, 8,572 yards, 81 TDs

The 49ers drafted wide receiver J.J. Stokes with the 10th pick of the 1995 NFL Draft. The selection was believed to be made because longtime fan favorite John Taylor was playing his last year in the NFL. Stokes had an outstanding career at UCLA, and it made sense for him to be the next up and coming receiver for the 49ers.

When Rice got injured against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Week 1 loss in the 1997 season, Stokes was expected to be the man. Yet, it was a second-year receiver the team drafted in the third round from Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1996 who led the team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns.

The following year when Rice returned, "TO" lead the team in receiving touchdowns and had his first 1,000-yard receiving season. In the first round of the 1998 playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, Owens started by having a horrible game with drops and fumbles but made the game-winning touchdown catch with 14 seconds left. That play is known as "The Catch II."

"TO" had many great games in his 49ers career but in a December 17, 2000 game against the Chicago Bears, he had a then-career record of 20 receptions for 283 yards and a touchdown. The game was Jerry Rice's final home game as a Niner. Many considered this to be passing the torch to Owens as the next great 49ers receiver.

In his eight years with the 49ers, Owens was a four-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame second-team All 2000 team and Pro Football Reference first-team All 2000.

3) Gene Washington


1969-1977: 371 receptions, 6,664 yards, 59 TDs

I did not see Washington play but looked at some of his highlights and his numbers. Washington's career game was on September 17, 1972 during the Week 1 home opener against the San Diego Chargers. He had eight receptions for 140 yards and three touchdowns. In his nine years with the 49ers, Washington was a four-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and was on the Pro Football Reference second-team All 1970s team.

4) Dwight Clark


1979-1987: 506 receptions, 6,750 yards, 51 TDs

Clark ranks high on the list because of his catch in the 1981 NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys when he made the play of the game, best known as the "The Catch," and helped launch the 49ers dynasty. A little-known fact about Clark is when he was at Clemson, he was seldom used. When the former 49ers head coach, the late great Bill Walsh, was scouting Tigers' quarterback Steve Fuller, there was a small issue. There was no one to catch his passes. The only receiver available was Clark, and Walsh liked what he saw in him which led to the Niners drafting him in the 10th round.

In a June 2018 interview on "Move the Chains" with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Sirius XM, former 49ers CEO Carmen Policy recalls Clark not unpacking his bag and telling Joe Montana he was going to get cut because there is no way he is going to make the team.

"Now, he is part of the heart and soul of the dynasty," Policy said.

Clark's career game was on a Week 14 comeback win in 1980 against the New Orleans Saints. The 49ers were down 35-7 at halftime and won 38-35. Clark had six receptions for 155 yards and one touchdown. The game against the Saints is the greatest comeback in NFL regular-season history. Clark was a two-time Pro Bowler and 1982 first-team All-Pro. Clark lost his life to ALS on June 4, 2018.

5) Billy Wilson


1951-1960: 407 receptions, 5,902 yards, 49 TDs

Wilson is another player I did not have the pleasure of watching. He played in an era when it was run oriented but was compared with the greats of the time such as Raymond Berry, Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch, and Tom Fears. Wilson's career game was an October 23, 1955 game against the Chicago Bears when he recorded eight receptions for 192 yards and two touchdowns.

In his 10-year career, Wilson was a six-time Pro Bowler, 1957 All first-team All-Pro, and on the Pro Football Reference All 1950s Team. He is ranked fifth all-time on the 49ers receiving list. Wilson lost his life on January 2, 2009, to bone cancer.

Honorable Mention


John Taylor
1987-1997: 347 receptions, 5,598 yards, 43 receiving TDs

Taylor played alongside the greatest of all-time, Jerry Rice. He was the ultimate receiver who was known for his vicious blocks and making key catches like the game-winning touchdown catch against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII.

"JT" came into the league as a special teamer and at one time held the record for the longest punt return in a Super Bowl with 45 yards. The record was recently broken by Denver Bronco's Jordan Norwood in Super Bowl 50.

Taylor's career game came on a Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams. With the Rams up 17-3 in the second quarter against the defending champions, "JT" caught a short slant route and took it for a 92-yard touchdown reception. Taylor later caught another short pass for another 95-yard touchdown catch. He finished the game with 11 receptions for 286 yards and two touchdowns. JT was a two-time Pro Bowler and named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame All 1980s second team.

Freddie Solomon
1978-1985: 310 receptions, 4,873 yards, 43 receiving TDs

Solomon did not have any accolades in his career with the 49ers outside of his consistency and how he helped mold the young 49ers players to be model players. He ranks ninth on the 49ers all-time receiving list. In a September 18, 1983, game against the Los Angeles Rams, Solomon had three receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Solomon lost his life to colon cancer on February 13, 2012.

Anquan Boldin
2013-2015: 237 receptions, 3,030 yards, 16 receiving TDs

Why is "Quan" on this list? Because the receiver who ate up the 49ers secondary in Super Bowl 48 came to the team and made an immediate impression in the game opener against the Green Bay Packers when he had 13 receptions for 208 yards and one touchdown. In his three years with the 49ers, Boldein amassed enough receiving yards to rank number 16 on the team's all-time receiving yards list. Boldin was the 2013 Week 1 Player of the Week with the 49ers.

Wishful Thinking


Ed McCaffrey
1994-1995: 11 receptions, 131 yards, two receiving TDs

When you look at McCaffrey's numbers with the 49ers, they are blah. As a matter of fact, it is tragic, but I want you to think about this: When McCaffrey followed former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan to Denver, he had 462 receptions for 6,200 yards receiving and 46 touchdowns. From 1995 to 2003 he ranked number five on the Broncos' all-time receiving list and made the Pro Bowl in 1998. Marc Trestman took over for Shanahan as 49ers offensive coordinator and continued to run a version of the West Coast Offense. McCaffrey could have elevated the 49ers passing game. With him, Rice, and an up-and-coming Terrell Owens, the 49ers could have had at least one Super Bowl appearance in the eight years, and maybe the 49ers would not have drafted Stokes.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


2 Comments

  • Sean
    You have Boldin on there but, not even a mention of RC Owens?
    Sep 30, 2019 at 4:28 PM
    3
  • coastaldave
    Gene Washington was my hero growing up. I would get the Monday morning paper, and there would be a picture Gene; totally layed out, 3 ft off the ground, hauling in a John Brodie bomb! This is when candlestick was the worst turf field in the league. The players called it Candlestick concrete... I have flashbacks when I see Pettis wearing # 18. It should have been retired long ago!
    Sep 30, 2019 at 3:29 PM
    0

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