All-time best 49ers offensive linemen
The offensive line gets no respect.
In the NFL Draft, linemen are never considered the sexy pick. If the quarterback is under pressure and fails, it’s their fault. When the quarterback succeeds, they get zero recognition.
As a unit, they protect the quarterback at the corners, but most importantly, they protect the quarterback’s blindside. They even pull the running back all the way to the end zone.
The simple truth is every team needs an offensive front. It doesn’t matter how good your offense is, good luck running a play without them.
Looking at the members of this offensive line, any combination of tackles and interior linemen would be a success. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a weak link here at all.
Joe Staley has started every single game he’s played in. That feat alone is amazing, but the fact that he played in 181 games showed his durability and dedication to the franchise. He spent his first season at right tackle and moved to left tackle for the remaining 12. He’s been to six Pro Bowls and is a lock for the Hall of Fame.
Stat line: Started every game in his career (181), 6 Pro Bowls, eventual HOF
Trent Williams has 162 starts in 163 career games. He’s been named to 10 consecutive Pro Bowls and been named All-Pro twice. He simply makes everyone around him better. He’s 35 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. The general consensus is that he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
The general consensus is absolutely right.
He’s a leader, a hype man and the best offensive tackle in the league, respectively.
Stat line: 163 games, 162 starts, 10 consecutive Pro Bowls, 2-time All-Pro, eventual HOF
Randy Cross is a national treasure. He’s started 180 games, all for San Francisco. His brilliant 13-year career resulted in three Pro Bowls and three Super Bowl victories. Cross played both center and guard, making him a valuable asset across the entire interior. He played a big role in attaining Team of the Decade honors, and he’s part of the 10-year club in San Francisco. He was durable and lock down at every position.
Cross set the standard for offensive line play in San Francisco. He’s a legend.
Stat line: 180 starts, 3 Pro Bowls, 3-time Super Bowl champion
Jesse Sapolu anchored the 49ers offensive line successfully for 13 seasons. Also a member of the 10-year club, he’s the only lineman who played for four Super Bowl-winning teams.
Sapolu played all over the interior but spent more time at center. He had 154 career starts and was been nominated to two Pro Bowls. Sapolu was the undeniable leader along the offensive front for over a decade.
That alone speaks volumes.
Stat line: 154 starts, 4-time Super Bowl champion
Guy McIntyre is the most underrated player on this squad. Without him at left guard, Joe Montana and Steve Young would’ve run a lot more bootlegs.
McIntyre shored up the middle next to Sapolu and gave the ultimate protection. He played 13 years for San Francisco, made the Pro Bowl five times and has three Super Bowl rings. Since his retirement from the NFL, he’s spent 20 years in the 49ers’ front office and 13 years in alumni relations.
Simply put, McIntyre is a lifelong member of the Niners. He deserves the utmost credit for all his contributions.
Stat line: 125 starts, 5 Pro Bowls, 3-time Super Bowl champion
Bob St. Clair
Bob St. Clair is the definition of a legend. He spent 11 seasons at right tackle for San Francisco and made five Pro Bowls during his tenure. Currently, he’s the only 49ers offensive lineman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and that speaks volumes considering the 49ers have had some elite linemen over the years.
St. Clair saw time on special teams as well, and in 1956, he blocked an astounding 10 field goals. Most importantly, he was durable and devoted to the game. He once lost five teeth blocking a punt, yet he still finished the game. He was not only an elite player for the franchise, but he was also an old-school tough guy, and they certainly don’t make them like that anymore.
Stat line: 117 starts, 5 Pro Bowls, Hall of Famer
You can’t think of the 49ers offensive line, and not think of Harris Barton. Barton spent 10 years on that epic line winning three Super Bowls, two All-Pro honors and was nominated to the Pro Bowl in 1993. He and Steve Wallace were a formidable duo that was absolutely immovable.
From the right side, he protected two Hall of Fame quarterbacks throughout this tenure. Barton was unstoppable, and quite simply put, unbeatable.
Stat line: 134 starts, 1 Pro Bowl, 2-time All-Pro, 3-time Super Bowl champion
Derrick Deese had his struggles getting into the lineup for San Francisco after going undrafted in 1992. His efforts at USC went unnoticed, but after 11 years of play and a Super Bowl title, he’s logged in as one of the greats.
Deese made 132 starts from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. He played right guard and both tackle positions. His versatility and protective instincts were of the utmost value to the franchise. Deese defied the odds and made his name a household one in the state of California.
Stat line: 132 starts, Super Bowl champion
Wallace was an absolute bookend opposite Barton. He revolutionized the left tackle position in the 1980s and proved his durability playing until 1997. Wallace started 127 games and won three Super Bowls for the franchise. He was a quiet man who did his talking on the field, and his play was exceptional and never went unnoticed.
He was picked in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, but he played as a first-round talent for San Francisco.
His efforts on the field are still recognized today. Wallace truly was one of the greats.
Stat line: 127 starts, 1 Pro Bowl, 3-time Super Bowl champion