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) /
15 of 16
Ken Norton Jr., San Francisco 49ers
Ken Norton Jr., San Francisco 49ers. Mandatory Credit: Ronald Martinez /Allsport /

Greatest free agent acquistions in San Francisco 49ers history: 2. Ken Norton Jr.

49ers Tenure: 1994 – 2000

One could argue the 49ers’ NFL free agency class of 1994 was the best in franchise history. In addition to Deion Sanders, Gary Plummer and Rickey Jackson, the Niners also brought in a tough, physical linebacker from their arch-nemesis in the Dallas Cowboys in Ken Norton Jr.

More from SF 49ers All-Time Lists

Norton was already a tackling machine for Dallas the two years prior to joining San Francisco. And after helping the 49ers win Super Bowl XXIX, he became the first player in NFL history to win three consecutive Super Bowls.

Unlike Sanders, though, Norton was nothing close to a one-year rental. In 1995, Norton arguably had his best season as a pro, registering 96 tackles and recording an impressive three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns in one game. Not surprisingly, he was named both to the Pro Bowl and a First-Team All-Pro for his efforts that year.

The following year, Norton led the Niners defense with 127 tackles. In 1997, Norton reached his third Pro Bowl overall, second with the red and gold.

Norton’s 551 solo tackles currently put him third on the franchise’s all-time list in this category. And he was still impressing enough when he finally called it a career after his 2000 campaign, which helps him earn the No. 2 spot on this list.