One of the NFL’s older franchises, the San Francisco 49ers have enjoyed plenty of success over the past 40 years. The team has boasted some of the most recognizable players in league history, but has also featured some legends who aren’t typically associated with them. Here are five players you may have forgotten played for the Niners.
5. Isaac Bruce, 2008-2009
A 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Bruce spent 14 years with the Los Angeles and St. Louis Rams, providing an incredibly reliable target for Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger, among others. He gained over 1,000 receiving yards eight times and made four Pro Bowls. Following the 2007 campaign, the Rams asked Bruce to take a pay cut from his three-year $15 million deal he had signed a season earlier, despite promising not to reduce his salary at the time of signing. Bruce refused, and St. Louis cut him outright.
He moved on to San Francsico, where Mike Martz, his former offensive coordinator, was coaching. Bruce wore number 80 with the Rams, but switched to 88 with the 49ers, even though the great Jerry Rice gave him permission to use his 80. He caught his 1,000th career pass against his old team, and was eventually traded back to the Rams to retire in 2010. In 26 games with the Niners, Bruce caught 82 passes for 1,099 yards and seven touchdowns, bringing his career totals to 1,024 grabs, 15,208 yards, and 91 scores.
4. Randy Moss, 2012
Moss is one of the most talented players in NFL history, and put together a Hall of Fame career, primarily with the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots. Towards the end of his career, Moss was traded from New England back to Minnesota, but lasted only four games before being cut due to a falling out with head coach Brad Childress, who would be fired less than three weeks later. He spent the final eight games of the 2010 season with the Tennesse Titans before retiring.
After a year away from the game, Moss returned to football and signed a one-year deal with San Francisco. He caught 28 passes for 434 yards and three TDs during the regular season, and made it back to the Super Bowl, but the Niners were unable to finally secure Moss the Super Bowl ring he had chased for his entire career. At the age of 36, Moss retired for good, ending the career of one of the most spectacular receivers to ever play.
3. O.J. Simpson, 1978-1979
Simpson’s off-field life has been well documented, but he was still one heck of a running back for the Buffalo Bills. In nine seasons with the Bills, he ran for over 10,000 yards, earning six Pro Bowl berths and being selected to five All-Pro teams. The Hall of Famer is remembered (as a player at least) as a Bill, but he actually played his final two seasons on the West Coast, in his hometown of San Francisco. He played 23 games over those two years, running for 1,053 yards and four touchdowns, a far cry from the dominance he exemplified earlier in his career.
2. Kevin Greene, 1997
Greene ranks third all-time with 160 sacks, the majority of which he collected with the Los Angeles Rams, but he did spend three seasons each with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Carolina Panthers. Greene initially signed with the Panthers in 1996, but then left for the 49ers a year later. With San Francisco, he had 10.5 sacks in 14 games, playing as a situational pass-rusher. He returned to Carolina in 1998, where he played his final two seasons. In 12 of his 15 seasons, Greene totaled at least seven sacks, and had 10.5 or more in each of his last four seasons. He served as the outside linebackers coach for the New York Jets in 2017 under head coach Todd Bowles.
1. Larry Allen, 2006-2007
Perhaps the greatest interior offensive lineman of all time, Allen spent 12 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, making the Pro Bowl 10 times and being selected to six All-Pro teams. He was released in 2006, and spent the final two years of his career with the 49ers, earning another Pro Bowl nod in 2006, despite missing five games due to injury. After the 2007 campaign, Allen returned to the Cowboys, where he retired with his original team. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013 his first year of eligibility. Allen’s son, Larry Jr., was signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2019,