Defensive Tackle: Leo Nomellini, Justin Smith, Dana Stubblefield, Michael Carter
End: Fred Dean, Bryant Young, Cedric Hardman, Charlie Krueger, Dwaine Board
OK, this one was tough.
It isn’t hard to figure out the names to make the 49ers’ 53-man all-time cut. Instead, it’s deciding who starts and who rides the honorary bench.
The only surefire starter, who can’t at all be classified a reserve, is Hall of Famer Leo Nomellini, who spent his entire 14-year career with the 49ers from 1950 through 1963. During that span, Nomellini earned five first-team All-Pro selections and… wait for it… 11 Pro Bowl nods.
Just imagine a player of that caliber today thriving in such a media-rich environment. Nomellini would have been a household name.
Instead, he gets the right to be called San Francisco’s first Hall of Fame inductee (1968).
Fellow Hall of Famer Fred Dean also makes it on the starting list too. And while he had just four-plus years with the 49ers, his 17.5 sacks in 1983 are sure worth remembering.
Of course, where would our starting lineup be without defenders Justin Smith and Bryant Young? Each epitomized the toughness and sheer physicality of Niners defenses at their prime. Both were key elements during their respective tenures and deserve to start too.
Meanwhile, defensive end Cedric Hardman was one of the 49ers’ premier edge defenders in the 1970s, giving way to Dwaine Board during the 1980s, whose 45 sacks during his Niners tenure sure were impressive.
And who doesn’t love Dana Stubblefield? Come on, man.