No. 4: Running Back Garrison Hearst
Garrison Hearst holds a very special place in my heart. My first memory of the 49ers was a 1998 playoff game. If you know anything about Hearst and his history with the 49ers, you know that this was the game that many thought would take his career.
Hearst left the game, against the Atlanta Falcons, with an ankle injury that would sideline him for the next two seasons.
San Francisco 49ers
But it is what Hearst did before and after the injury that puts him on this list.
With three previous teams, Hearst rushed for more than 500 yards just once, with NFC west rivals, the Arizona Cardinals. He was traded to the 49ers in 1997 after being traded to the Cinncinati Bengals after his only 1,000 yard season. With the Bengals, Hearst found the end zone just once, and rushed for just over 800 yards.
It wasn’t until he landed in the Bay that people began to see what Hearst was completely capable of.
Leading up to his injury, Hearst put up three consecutive 1,000 yards seasons with the 49ers and he was selected to the Pro Bowl twice.
The playoff injury kept the running back sidelined for the 1999 and 2000 seasons, but Hearst came back rumbling in 2001 when he posted 1,289 total yards and nine touchdowns.
Hearst would finish his career with the 49ers as the franchises fifth all-time leading rusher, and fourth on my all-time best franchises signs list.