Sports are of course a fun way to interpret and play with data, and as a Bay Area resident I’m excited to see what SAP will deliver to 49er fans and the organization with our analytics, mobility, and performance management solutions. Until then, I thought I’d have some fun counting down some of the most mind-blowing statistics (at least to me) in 49ers history.
10. Most tackles in a season: 174, Patrick Willis. This actually came in Willis’ rookie year (2007) and is #3 all time. It’s pretty amazing to average more than 10 tackles per game for an entire season. Willis is my favorite player and just a tackling machine.
9. Most passing yards in a season: 4,278, Jeff Garcia. What? Not Joe Montana? Not Steve Young? Not even Elvis Grbac? No, it was 30-year old Jeff Garcia who was in his first year as a starter (1999). To me it’s more proof that Bill Walsh’s west coast offense was a thing of genius. (Note: Garcia is so under-the-radar that I could barely find a single video of him on YouTube! This is the best I could find.)
8. Longest run from scrimmage: 96 yards, Garrison Hearst. This run is legendary not only because it came in overtime to beat the NY Jets, but it also featured one of the all-time great stiff arms from a running back. It’s also cool to see a young Terrell Owens blocking all the way down the field!
7. Most points in a season: 636 points (incl. playoffs), 1994 49ers. This was an NFL record at the time, as the Niners steamrolled through the NFL on the way to their fifth Super Bowl. Steve Young was in his prime and had an embarrassing amount of weapons at his disposal: Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Ricky Watters, William Floyd, Brent Jones, etc. Not to mention their offensive coordinator was Mike Shanahan, just before he went on to win two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos.
6. 1st player to Run and Receive for 1,000 yards in a season: Roger Craig. Craig was the ideal running back for the West Coast offense. He put it all together in 1985 and reached both milestones. Also scored 15 touchdowns to boot.
5. Most touchdown receptions in a season: 22, Jerry Rice. I suppose this entire list could consist of remarkable Jerry Rice stats, but that wouldn’t be much fun would it? Still, this stat boggles the mind. I realize that his record was broken by Randy Moss a few years ago, but Rice accomplished this in only 12 games (not 16) due to the players’ strike in 1987. To think that he almost averaged 2 touchdowns per game – that would be the equivalent of hitting like 90 home runs or something.
4. Most consecutive 10-win seasons: 16, SF 49ers, 1983-1998. Now we’re getting to the truly unbreakable records. This record more than anything shows the utter dominance and consistency of the 49ers dynasty during their glory years. The transition from Joe Montana to Steve Young allowed them to not miss a beat through two decades. Think about it. To go at least 10-6 for 16 straight years? Yeah, I don’t think anyone’s breaking that record soon.
3. Most touchdown passes in a game: 6, Steve Young: Nice timing for Steve to have his greatest game on the biggest stage — Super Bowl XXIX. No pressure or anything, just your entire legacy, career, escaping the shadow of Montana and all that. Monkey removed.
2. Most consecutive road wins: 18, SF 49ers, 1988-1990. Some experts think this is the most unbreakable record of all. Even if you go undefeated on the road for an entire season you’re not even halfway there. You need to win every road game for more than two full seasons. Incredible.
1. Most career receiving yards, career: 22,895, Jerry Rice. I could’ve picked any of Rice’s many records where he laps the field, but this one stands out to me because #2 on the list (Terrell Owens) is still 6,961 yards behind him! To put it another way, Rice is a whopping 30% ahead of the guy closest to him. Try applying that math to some of your favorite sports records and you will see how outrageous that disparity is. It almost makes me laugh thinking about it.
So there’s my list. What do you think?Feel free to include any of your favorite 49er stats (or stats from any other team) in the comments section below. Thanks!