Recently, I created a Pantheon for the greatest 49ers from 1979 to the present, because that's the era I'm most familiar with.
But the 49ers have such a rich history that predates 1979. And as they celebrate their 75th season as a franchise, it's appropriate to honor the greats from 1950 to 1979. The ones who played at Kezar Stadium back when the 49ers really played in San Francisco.
Here are the greatest 49ers of the Kezar Era:
Y.A. Tittle, Quarterback.
Played for the 49ers from 1950 to 1960, and finished his career with seven Pro Bowls and one M.V.P. Award. In the Hall of Fame.
John Brodie, Quarterback.
Played for the 49ers from 1957 to 1973. Finished his career with two Pro Bowls and an M.V.P, and was the last great 49ers quarterback before Joe Montana.
Joe Perry, Running back.
One of the greatest running backs of all time, Perry also was the 49ers first African-American player. The 49ers signed him in 1948 -- before they joined the NFL. When he retired in 1963, he was the NFL's all-time leading rusher, until some guy who played Lacrosse at Syracuse eventually broke his record. Perry still is the 49ers' second-leading rusher behind Frank Gore. Perry's nickname is the "Jet," and he's a Hall of Famer, unlike the other former 49ers running back who goes by "Jet" -- Jerick McKinnon.
Hugh McElhenny, Running back.
Played in the same backfield as Perry on the 49ers and at Compton Junior College. The 49ers drafted McElhenny with the No. 9 pick in 1952, and he went to be the Rookie of the Year, a six-time Pro Bowler and a Hall of Famer.
Bob St. Clair, Offensive tackle.
Played high school football (San Francisco Poly), college football (USF) and professional football all in San Francisco. St. Clair was 6'9" and could have dominated in any era. Hall of Famer.
Jimmy Johnson, Safety/Cornerback/Wide Receiver.
Played three positions and intercepted 47 passes in 15 seasons. Better than any player currently in the 49ers secondary. Hall of Famer.
Charlie Krueger, Defensive Tackle.
Played for the 49ers from 1959 to 1973 and was every bit as good as Bryant Young and Justin Smith.
Leo Nomellini, Defensive Tackle.
Played for the 49ers from 1950 to 1963, was a 10-time Pro Bowler and is in the Hall of Fame. He's one of the greatest NFL players of all time.