1. Jerry Rice 1985-2000 (12x Pro Bowler, 14 postseason victories, 3x Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl XXIII MVP, Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2010)
Yes, Jerry Rice is the greatest wide receiver of all time. Rice is also the greatest all-around football player of all time, and an argument to the contrary loses on merit.
Rice was the greatest route-runner in NFL history. He wasn’t known to have excellent speed, yet he ran away from defensive backs with ease. Rice had elite hands but could also run with the ball, causing analyst John Madden to use the term “Run After Catch” as a way to illustrate Rice’s impact after making a reception. And no wide receiver has been a more tenacious blocker.
His postseason impact for the 49ers was gargantuan. In 1989, Rice may have put together the greatest postseason a non-quarterback has ever accomplished. In three games, Rice had 21 receptions, 409 yards and six touchdowns. The next player on this list made the game-winning catch that year, but the Niners wouldn’t have won Super Bowl XXIII without Rice.
2. John Taylor 1987-1995 (2x Pro Bowler, 12 postseason victories, 3x Super Bowl champion)
A very strong argument can be made for Dwight Clark here. I gave Taylor the edge because John Taylor played in 17 postseason games, while Clark played in nine. Taylor also has one more Super Bowl victory than Clark and he caught the game-clinching touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXIII.
On any other team in his era, Taylor would have been the top receiving option on his team. He just happened to play with “the G.O.A.T.” Still, there was no better yin to Rice’s Yang.
Taylor caught six career postseason touchdowns, was an excellent blocker and was an underrated kick returner.
3. Dwight Clark 1979-1987 (2x Pro Bowler, six postseason victories, 2x Super Bowl champion)
Aside from quarterback Joe Montana, nobody is more responsible for ushering in the Niners’ dynasty of the 1980s than wide receiver Dwight Clark. The receiver responsible for “The Catch”, Clark had excellent hands and route running ability.
Even though his lack of speed limited him primarily to a possession role, he still managed to accumulate 726 postseason receiving yards as Joe Montana’s favorite target.
4. Terrell Owens 1996-2003 (6x Pro Bowler, four postseason victories, Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2018)
Initially mentored by Rice, Terrell Owens had a Hall-of-Fame career at wide receiver. His postseason career in San Francisco will always be punctuated by his dramatic game-winning touchdown reception against the Green Bay Packers in January 1999. Sure, he dropped five passes in that game, including a potential touchdown that would have made his heroics in the final seconds unnecessary, but he made the play when it counted the most.
Owens became the big-bodied receiver Bill Walsh hoped fellow wideout J.J. Stokes would become. Unfortunately, Owens eventually became a cancer in the Niners’ locker room, which led to his departure via free agency.