49ers’ All-Time Rushing Leaders (Yardage)
Think of the San Francisco 49ers, and you think of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young first off. The Niners have won five out of five Super Bowl appearances, all in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s with those players I just mentioned. But they have always been a pass-first, West coast offense and so running backs have not been as integral as QBs and wide receivers. But there have been some good rushers in San Francisco too over the years, and here is a list of the franchise’s all-time Top 10 in rushing yardage:
Joe Perry (8689)—Joe Perry played most his career with the 49ers, from 1948 to 1960 and again in 1963. Perry ranks first in team history with 8689 rushing yards and made the Pro Bowl three times, including twice as first team All Pro in 1953 and 1954. Those were Perry’s best seasons, and he had a career high 1049 rushing yards in 1954 with 8 rushing touchdowns, adding 26 catches for 203 yards out of the backfield.
Roger Craig (7064)—Roger Craig played the bulk of his career with the Niners, from 1983 to 1990, and helped them win a few Super Bowls along the way. Craig ranks second in franchise history with 7064 rushing yards, and his best season for San Francisco was 1988, one of five Pro Bowl seasons and his only first team All Pro selection. That season, Craig had career highs in rushing yards (1502) and rushing TDs (9), adding an astonishing 76 catches for 534 yards and 1 more score as a receiver.
Ken Willard (5930)—Fullback Ken Willard played all but one season of his career with San Francisco, from 1965 to 1973. Willard ranks third in Niners’ history with 5930 rushing yards and was a four-time Pro Bowl player. Willard’s best season was 1968, with career highs in rushing yards (967) and rushing touchdowns (7), adding 36 catches for another 232 yards.
Garrison Hearst (5535)—Garrison Hearst was a bit of a journeyman player, but his five seasons in San Francisco (1997-2003, minus two he missed with injury) were his best, including back-to-back Pro Bowl selections in 1998 and 2001. Hearst ranks fourth in team history with 5535 rushing yards, and his best season with the Niners was 1998. That year, Hearst put up career highs in rushing yards (1570) and rushing TDs (7), adding 39 catches for 535 yards and 2 more TDs out of the backfield.
Frank Gore (4441)—Frank Gore has only been with the 49ers since 2005 but already ranks fifth in their history with 4441 rushing yards. Gore has the potential to top this list in a few years if he remains in the Bay area. Gore’s best season was his lone Pro Bowl year of 2006 when he rushed for a career best 1695 yards with 8 rushing TDs (also career high), adding 61 catches for 485 yards and one more score as a receiver.
JD Smith (4370)—JD Smith was with the Niners from 1956 to 1964 and ranks sixth in franchise history with 4370 rushing yards. Smith made the Pro Bowl twice, including his best season of 1959. That year, Smith rushed for career highs in rushing yards (1036) and rushing TDs (10), with 13 catches for 133 more yards and one more touchdown.
Hugh McElhenny (4288)—Hugh McElhenny played most of his career in San Francisco, from 1952 to 1960, and ranks seventh in team history with 4288 rushing yards. McElhenny made the Pro Bowl five times (twice as first team All Pro) while with the 49ers, and his best season there was 1956. That year, McElhenny rushed for career highs in yards (916) and touchdowns (8), and added 16 catches for 193 yards out of the backfield.
Kevan Barlow (3614)—Kevan Barlow played in San Francisco from 2001 to 2005, which constitutes most of his pro career. Barlow ranks eighth in 49ers’ history with 3614 rushing yards, and his best season with the team was 2003, when he rushed for a career high 1024 yards with 6 rushing touchdowns, and added 35 receptions for 307 yards and one more TD as a receiver.
Steve Young (3581)—For as great as Joe Montana was, Steve Young picked right up where Montana left off when he took over as QB in San Francisco. Young made the Pro Bowl seven straight times, including twice as a first team All Pro selection. Young played for the Niners from 1987 to 1999, and though he was a great quarterback, he did have great rushing skills, and ranks ninth in 49ers’ team history with 3581 yards on the ground. In 1992, one of Young’s All Pro seasons, he rushed for a career high 537 yards with 4 rushing scores, and passed for 3465 yards with 25 TDs and 7 interceptions.
Johnny Strzykalski (3415)—Johnny Strzykalski played his entire career in San Francisco, from 1946 to 1952 and ranks tenth in Niners’ history with 3415 rushing yards. Strzykalski had his best season in 1948, when he rushed for a career best 915 yards with 4 rushing touchdowns, adding 26 catches for 485 yards and 7 receiving TDs as well.