No. 6: R.C. Owens
No. 160 Overall, 1956 NFL Draft
The 49ers archives have to be accessed for yet another wide receiving legend in franchise history, R.C. Owens, who was selected much later than most of the others on this list, No. 160 in the 1956 NFL Draft. Round 14, to be exact, back when there were that many rounds.
The 6-foot-3 Owens wasn’t the volume receiver many of the players on this list were, and he only spent five seasons in San Francisco.
Owens’ first four as a member of the Niners were moderately impressive, yes. But when one looks at his outstanding 1961 season, in which he recorded 1,032 receiving yards on 55 catches, it’s easy to see why he should be at least mentioned on this list.
But Owens works his way up the ranks among 49ers draftees because of one way in which he specifically changed the game: his “Alley Oop” style jump-ball catches in the end zone.
Owens’ leaping abilities proved to be a major boon for Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle, who’d simply toss the ball up in the receiver’s direction, nearly always to San Francisco’s benefit. At the time, jump balls weren’t a major factor in football circles.
Owens changing this style of gameplay makes him worthy of being included on this list.