Let’s put it to a vote… which underappreciated 49ers player (they still deserve a lot of credit) would you consider the team’s best cult hero?
OK, it’s the offseason. And before we even sniff training camp, there’ll be plenty of time for all the chatter about which prospect the San Francisco 49ers take with the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, who the No. 4 safety on the depth chart will be this season, who winds up being on the practice-squad roster bubble and so on.
Yes, plenty of time for all of it.
Taking a break and having a bit more fun, however, let’s explore some of the other less-known fan-favorite Niners heading into the upcoming season.
You might call them “cult heroes,” if nothing else. These are the kinds of players, for whatever reasons, who are absolutely newsworthy even if they aren’t exactly going to sell a ton of jerseys among the fanbase.
It doesn’t mean they aren’t adored, though.
While you can pick whoever you want who falls into this kind of category, we’ve selected three finalists for the 2022 San Francisco 49ers Cult Hero award. And you’ll get to vote (as long as you’re on Twitter) for your favorite.
49ers 2022 Cult Hero award finalists
Running Back Jeff Wilson Jr.
Seriously, running back Jeff Wilson Jr. doesn’t get enough credit. And, sure, he missed all but nine games last season because of injuries and had nowhere near the kind of production enjoyed the previous season in 2020 when he led the team in both rushing yards (600) and net touchdowns (10), and he almost single-handedly defeated the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals that year, too.
Forget all that, though. Who can forget that amazing touchdown grab against the Cardinals in a come-from-behind win back in 2019? That alone should put Wilson in the cult-hero discussion:
Pretty great how raw his celebration was, too.
Long-Snapper Taybor Pepper
If you’re a long-snapper in the NFL and no one knows your name, you’re usually doing your job well. Long-snappers aren’t supposed to be noticed. When they are, it’s not often pretty.
For the Niners’ own Taybor Pepper, though, it’s the opposite. He might actually be the definition of a cult hero.
While most fans would relish the chance to hang out with their favorite players for the day, hanging with Pepper might actually be the most entertaining thing out there.
Especially if he promises to do something like this:
Seriously, give Pepper’s Twitter a follow. You won’t regret it. It’s hilarious.
Cornerback Dontae Johnson
Three things are inevitable in life: death, taxes and San Francisco signing cornerback Dontae Johnson.
Actually, it seems as if the 49ers signing, then cutting Johnson is a regular occurrence. Seriously, he has to be viewed as the 53rd player on a 53-man roster any given season. All one needs to do is take a quick look at the many on-again, off-again transactions he’s had with the red and gold, and this below is only since 2019:
Not surprisingly, Johnson is back with the Niners for one more go-around entering 2022. And while he still won’t have that claim of being a full lock to make the roster heading into Week 1, one can almost bank on the seemingly yearly tradition of him being released and then signed again.
Multiple times over.
It’ll actually be a weird and sad day when San Francisco finally elects to bid farewell to Johnson for the last time.
Poll: 49ers 2022 Cult Hero award winner
We have our favorites. Now it’s time for you to choose.
Do you go with Wilson, the oft-overlooked tailback who shouldered the load on the ground in an otherwise forgettable 2020 campaign? Or would you choose Pepper, whose long-snapping prowess pails in comparison to his personality?
Or is it the inevitability of Johnson?
Have at it, Faithful.