The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Best Player Of All Time

Since top ten lists are all the rage these days, the dog days til training camp starts, I thought it was time for one more! Since USA Today has counted down their top 25 players of the last 25 years til camp,(and proudly, Joe and Jerry were number 1 and 2 on that list,respectively), I will go one better. Here is my number 1 player of all time, regardless of era or position.

Number 1:

Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions, 1989 -'98.

Before we look at the remarkable career of Sanders, some explanation for why I chose him over all others. Taking a look at all positions on a football field, and the impact that those different positions may play on the outcome of a game, no position has the ability to have greater impact than the running back position. Why do I say that? Well, Quarterbacks may touch the ball on every play, but at least half of those plays will result in a running play, which doesn't involve the quarterback except for the start. They aren't normally hit or absorb abuse on those plays but rather for 25 to 30 plays a game, the running back takes the pounding. Wide Receivers, if they are great (like #80!) see the ball for a maximum of 8 to 10 plays a game, or less. Defenders aren't the focus or involved on every play either, so it is my stance that no player handles the ball for the duration of a play like a running back does. Also, while championships is a focus for judging the greatness of QB's, sometimes unfairly, the success or failure for championships doesn't seem to extend to running backs.

Having said that, Barry Sanders distanced himself from all other runners and players with what he was able to accomplish in his short career, just 10 years, on a mediocre team. Unlike Emmitt Smith, Jim Brown, Tony Dorsett, Walter Payton, or Marcus Allen (etc...) , Sanders played on a playoff team only once but single handedly kept Detriot competitive. All other great runners had at least a solid Quarterback, and more importantly a great offensive line in front of them. Sanders never did. Everything he did was largely the result of his solo, and often broken field efforts. Had he ever had help, from a passing game or line, he may have rushed for 2,500 yards every year, and possibly thousands more in his career.

The Lions selected Sanders with their 1st-round (3rd overall) pick in the '89 draft. Though again there were concerns about his size it turned out these concerns were mostly unfounded. Sanders was far too quick for defenders to hit solidly on a consistent basis, and too strong to bring down with arm tackles. Though short at 5'8", Sanders was very stocky; his playing weight of 203 lb (91 kg) was the same as Walter Payton and only slightly under the NFL average for a back. Despite his flashy playing style, Sanders was rarely seen celebrating after the whistle was blown instead he preferred to hand the ball to a referee or congratulate his teammates. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he never spiked the ball after a touchdown.

In 1994, Sanders rushed for an impressive 1,883 yards, on an even more amazing 5.7 yards per carry. But he also totaled 283 receiving yards, which gave him a combined 2,166 yards from scrimmage for the season. This was one of Sanders most impressive feats, and it gave him the NFL's Offensive MVP award. In 1995, Sanders posted 1,500 yards rushing with 398 receiving yards, barely beating his rushing total alone of the '94 season. In 1996, Sanders rushed for 1,553 yards with a career-low 147 receiving yards.

Sanders greatest season came in 1997 After a horrendous start in which he gained only 53 yards on 25 carries in the first two games of the season, Sanders rang off an NFL record 14 consecutive 100 yard games, including two 200 yard performances, en route to rushing for 2,053 yards. In reaching the 2,000 yard plateau, he became only the 3rd player to do so in a single season and the first since O. J. Simpson to rush for 2,000 yards in a span of 14 consecutive games. He was the first running back to rush for 1,500 yards in five seasons and the only one to do it four consecutive years. At the end of the season, Sanders shared the Associated Press's NFL Most Valuable Player Award with Brett Favre. In Sanders last season in the NFL, 1998 he rushed for 1,491 yards, breaking the four-year streak of rushing for over 1,500 yards in a season.

In Sanders spectacular career, although short, he achieved Pro Bowl status in all of his 10 seasons as a pro. Sanders was named All-Pro from 1989-1991 and 1993-1997 and was named All-Pro second team the '89, '92, '93, '96, and '98. Sanders was also named All-NFC from 1989-1992 to 1994-1997. Sanders was named NFL Rookie of the Year in '89, Offensive MVP in '94, MVP in '97, and was named to the 1990s NFL All-Decade team.

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