When the 49ers were great, during those dynasty years, they had one consistent factor – players with two first names. That’s right, think back on it: Roger Craig, Freddie Solomon, Russ Francis, John Frank, Guy Benjamin, Steve Wallace, John Taylor, Harry Sydney, William Floyd, Earl Cooper, Lenvil Elliott, Terry Kirby, Dwight Clark, Harris Barton (who had the distinction of having both two first names and two last names), Michael Carter, Charles Haley, and so on and so on. Bubba Paris, for that matter.
As the 2011 draft approaches, what players are available to help us recapture the magic?
At quarterback, its slim pickings, with only Andy Dalton (as in author Dalton Trumbo) and Tyrod Taylor even close. Still, if we look at the four greatest quarterbacks in 49er history, Joe Montana, Steve Young, John Brodie and Jeff Garcia, we see that this has not historically been a high impact position for the team based on the two first name theory.
Running back is far more promising, with prospects Kendall Hunter, Daniel Thomas, Demarco Murray, Delone Carter, Anthony Allen, John Clay, and Dion Lewis among the top rated backs. No doubt there’s a Wendell Tyler lurking in there somewhere.
Receiver is also a thin position, with only Jonathan Baldwin, Dwayne Harris, Niles Paul and tight ends Kyle Rudolph, Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron and Charles Clay available. Offensive line doesn’t look too good either, with only Orlando Franklin, Marcus Gilbert and perhaps Ricky Henry among top prospects. Good thing the team shouldn’t be drafting early at any of these positions in 2011.
On defense, linemen Cameron Jordan, Marcell Dareus, Phil Taylor, Allen Bailey, and Robert Quinn have the necessary names and appeal – think Fred Dean. At linebacker, Bruce Carter, Nate Irving and Chris Carter have potential to lead a 49er renaissance. We should do well at corner, with Brandon Harris, Johnny Patrick, and Josh Thomas among top prospects. Safety is very thin, with just Quinton Carter as a realistic possibility. And there’s Alex Henery at place kicker.
If we mock out a draft, how would Cameron Jordan, Phil Taylor, Andy Dalton, and Brandon Harris look in the early rounds? To tell the truth, if the 49ers do draft Cameron Jordan, it seems they’d be obligated to pick up Jordan Cameron later on – the synergy demands it. Not even legendary coach Bill Walsh pulled that one off, and the novelty of it might easily be worth one or two wins next season.
This system led to five championships in just 15 years, and as the team regains its legacy, more attention should be paid to it. You know, this started as a bit of 49er history and a mockery of mock drafts, yet the results would do just fine, wouldn’t they?