No. 1: Jimmy Johnson
49ers Tenure: 1961 – 1975
Pro Bowl Selections: 5
This one is a no-brainer.
Drafted No. 6 overall in the 1971 Draft, Jimmy Johnson went from cornerback to wide receiver, then back to cornerback where he remained for the rest of his football life. That would be the right decision, as Johnson proceeded to have a Hall-of-Fame career.
He is known for his man-to-man coverage and garnered respect for that from his teammates (via Don Smith of the Coffin Corner):
"Jim doesn’t receive much publicity because the opposition avoids him as much as possible, [former 49ers quarterback John] Brodie noted. Talk to veteran quarterbacks like John Unitas and Bart Starr and they’ll tell you they call few pass patterns in Jimmy’s area. The only reason Johnson doesn’t lead the league in interceptions is he doesn’t get the chance."
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Despite this reluctance to throw, Johnson was still able to compile a plethora of interceptions. Fourty-seven was the finally tally, good enough for No. 2 on the 49ers leaderboards.
To this day, Johnson remains the only 49ers cornerback to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
When it comes to the all-time list for best cornerbacks of the 49ers franchise, the names that populate it are no slouches. From Hall of Famers to Pro Bowlers, the level of play is high. This upcoming season will be the beginning of a new era, with second-year man Rashard Robinson ready to take the next step and rookie Ahkello Witherspoon aiming to cement himself as a competent No. 2.