San Francisco 49ers: 15 best free-agent acquisitions of all time

Garrison Hearst, San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Garrison Hearst, San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) /
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Ray Brown, San Francisco 49ers
Ray Brown, San Francisco 49ers. Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck /Allsport /

Greatest free agent acquistions in San Francisco 49ers history: 6. Ray Brown

49ers Tenure: 1996 – 2001

Rickey Jackson was one example of how age is just a number in the NFL. Sure, the law of averages works against those beyond 30 years old.

But no one seemed to tell that to offensive lineman Ray Brown.

Brown was largely considered close to being washed up when the Washington Redskins let him walk after the 1995 season. After all, Brown had just turned 34 years old. At best, he was going to give the 49ers a year or two of halfway decent play.

Instead, Brown was arguably the biggest stalwart on San Francisco’s offensive line from 1996 through 2001, missing just one game during that stretch.

Oh, and he even made his first Pro Bowl in 2001. And only at the tender young age of 39 years old.

The Niners, who were beginning to have cap issues following that season, elected to part ways with Brown after his Pro Bowl campaign. It would have been fine if Brown decided to retire shortly thereafter. But, of course, he didn’t and went on to play four more seasons until finally calling it quits in January of 2006.

That kind of longevity earns recognition here.