Ex-49ers better than the real thing?

It sort of hurts to watch the 49ers of the present, so SFI wondered what a team of former 49ers still playing in the NFL might look like. The result of our player search was rather stunning. It's a team that would be superior to today's Niners at many positions, featuring a starting unit that ostensibly could compete with almost any other in the league.

That's a little difficult to take when you see the 49ers running out third-stringers and practice-squad rookies as they stumble into the final quarter of their worst season in the past 25 years – and perhaps the franchise's worst season ever, depending on the way it ultimately plays out.

It's all about talent and established players, and the injury-ravaged Niners lack enough of either. But it's not like the team didn't at one time have those kind of players under its employ.

There are 40 former 49ers playing in the NFL today, and several of them perform at positions where San Francisco's 1-11 product of 2004 needs the most help. Several of them, in fact, were playing for the Niners as recently as last year, which now seems far away with many of the faces who replaced them struggling to get the job done.

Who would prevail if this collection of former 49ers could join forces for a four-quarter exhibition against San Francisco's team of today? We'll let you predict that one after perusing the list of former 49ers still doing their thing throughout the league.

It contains 12 Pro Bowl players, and enough talent at every position to produce a rather imposing starting lineup. Here's what a depth chart of those 40 players might look like.

Read it and weep.

OFFENSE

Quarterback - Jeff Garcia (Cleveland), Rick Mirer (Detroit), Ty Detmer (Atlanta), Ricky Ray (New York Jets)

Running back - Garrison Hearst (Denver), Charlie Garner (Tampa Bay), Jamal Robertson (Carolina)

Fullback - Marc Edwards (Jacksonville)

Wide receiver - Terrell Owens (Philadelphia), Jerry Rice (Seattle), Tai Streets (Detroit)

Tight end - Jed Weaver (New England)

Tackle - Derrick Deese (Tampa Bay), Matt Willig (Carolina), Tyrone Hopson (Detroit)

Guard - Ray Brown (Washington), Ron Stone (Oakland)

DEFENSE

End - Chike Okeafor (Seattle), Chidi Ahanotu (Tampa Bay), Ross Kolodziej (Arizona)

Tackle - Brentson Buckner (Carolina), Ted Washington (Oakland), Travis Kirschke (Pittsburgh), DeVone Claybrooks (Dallas) Josh Shaw (Miami)

Linebacker - Jeff Posey (Buffalo), Artie Ulmer (Atlanta)

Cornerback - R.W. McQuarters (Chicago), Jason Webster (Atlanta), Deion Sanders (Baltimore)

Safety - Lance Schulters (Tennessee), Pierson Prioleau (Buffalo), Zack Bronson (St. Louis)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker - Jeff Wilkins (St. Louis), Gary Anderson (Tennessee), Doug Brien (New York Jets), Wade Richey (Baltimore), Jose Cortez (Minnesota)

Punter - Chad Stanley (Houston), Jason Baker (Denver)

Kick returner - R.W. McQuarters (Chicago)


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