WR Ron Johnson will switch to No. 88 with 49ers
What’s in a number? When you play football for the 49ers, there’s usually a history behind the digits you’re wearing on your uniform. Nine of the team’s recent draft picks have selected the numbers they will be wearing this year as 49ers, and here’s a look at the top players who wore the number before them that the new rookies will be trying to live up to.
Only first-round draft pick Aldon Smith has yet to select his uniform number, but the incoming defensive-lineman-turned-outside-linebacker said recently that he’ll select a number “somewhere between the 50s and 90s.”
The nine picks behind Smith all have chosen their numbers. Here’s the list of those nine – in the order of the number they will wear – along with the best players in 49ers history to wear the number before them:
Rookie who will wear number: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the team’s second-round draft pick.
The best before him: Kicker Wade Richey, who donned No. 7 between 1998-2000 and led the team in scoring each of those seasons to get the nod over the two backup quarterbacks listed below.
Other notable No. 7s: QB Guy Benjamin (1981-1983), QB Ken Dorsey (2003-2005)
Rookie who will wear number: Cornerback Chris Culliver, the team’s third-round draft pick.
The best before him: This number has been worn by a handful of quality cornerbacks, including Don Griffin, who from 1986-1993 was a long-time starter and key performer during the heyday of the 49ers’ dynasty.
Other notable No. 29s: CB Ahmad Plummer (2000-2005)
Rookie who will wear number: Running back Kendall Hunter, the team’s fourth-round draft pick.
The best before him: Flamboyant running back Ricky Watters (1991-1994) was a star among stars on some truly great offensive teams, and he’d be the first one to tell you so.
Other notable No. 32s: DB Mel Phillips (1966-1976), RB O.J. Simpson (1978-1979), RB Kevan Barlow (2001-2005)
Rookie who will wear number: Cornerback Curtis Holcomb, the seventh-round draft pick who was the last of the team’s 10 selections.
The best before him: Terry Kirby (1996-1998) contributed to three playoff teams with his play in the backfield and returning kicks, including a kickoff return for a touchdown in the 1997 NFC Championship game.
Other notable No. 41s: DB Dave Whitmore (1991-1992)
Rookie who will wear number: Safety Colin Jones, the second of the team’s two sixth-round draft picks.
The best before him: DB/KR Dana McLemore (1982-1987), who held down return duties for the team as one of the best in the league for several seasons while also contributing in the defensive secondary.
Other notable No. 43s: RB Maurice Hicks (2004-2007), DB Windland Hall (1972-1975), RB Marc Logan (1992-1994)
Rookie who will wear number: Fullback Bruce Miller, the first of the team’s three seventh-round draft picks.
The best before him: It’s good to be No. 49 for the 49ers, as it was for rugged Jeff Fuller (1984-1989), who was on his way to stardom as a big, hard-hitting safety before a serious injury prematurely ended his career and left him maimed for life.
Other notable No. 49s: RB Earl Cooper (1980-1982)
Rookie who will wear number: Guard Daniel Kilgore, the team’s fifth-round draft pick.
The best before him: Sturdy Pete Kugler (1982-1983, 1986-1990) was a rock along the defensive line who played a significant part in making the 49ers the NFL’s team of the decades for the 1980s.
Other notable No. 67s: G Roy Foster (1991-1993), G-C Chris Dalman (1994-2000)
Rookie who will wear number: Guard Michael Person, the second of the team’s two seventh-round draft picks.
The best before him: OT Scott Gragg (2000-2004), who was as solid as they come at right tackle and was a key factor in San Francisco’s quick return to prominence in the early 2000s.
Other notable No. 78s: DL Pierce Holt (1989-1992), DL Archie Reese (1978-1981)
Rookie who will wear number: Wide receiver Ronald Johnson, the first of the team’s two sixth-round draft picks.
The best before him: Wide receiver Freddie Solomon (1978-1985) had 310 career receptions as a 49er and was San Francisco’s home-run threat at the beginning of the team’s dynasty before a guy named Jerry Rice came along to take his place.
Other notable No. 88s: TE/WR Dick Witcher (1966-1973), WR Isaac Bruce (2008-2009)