No. 6: J.D. Smith (1956-1964)
J.D. Smith was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 15th round in 1955 NFL Draft but skipped his rookie year to serve in the Korean War. Following his return from Korea in 1956, Smith was waived by the Bears where he served primarily as a defensive player and kick return specialist during his short stint with the team.
He was then quickly claimed off waivers by the 49ers where he initially served as a cornerback but was transitioned into a full-time ball carrier by the organization. Smith went on to claim the starting running back job by 1959, where he rushed for 1,036 yards and became only the second player ever to break the 1,000-yard threshold for the 49ers in a single season.
He finished second in rushing yards that season in the NFL, behind the great Hall of Famer, Jim Brown.
Smith went on to lead the Niners in rushing for five consecutive seasons and left his mark on the franchise forever by being one of the team’s most dynamic backs of all time. Smith is currently sixth on the 49ers all-time rushing list with 1,007 carries, 4,370 yards and 37 rushing touchdowns during his eight seasons with the team.