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Do 49ers have too many retired numbers? Shanahan says yes

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Just seven days after defensive lineman Solomon Thomas sustained a torn ACL in his left knee, No. 94 will be back on the field for the 49ers this weekend.

Thomas is out for the season, of course. But he granted permission to newly signed defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah to wear the jersey number Thomas was issued after becoming the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

Ansah wore No. 94 during his six seasons with the Detroit Lions, as well as his one year with the Seattle Seahawks.

“Ziggy was really cool about it because that's his number,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Friday. “He called Solly and asked him if he could do it, and Solly was honored to tell him it was no problem and really helped him out with that.”

Ansah and Dion Jordan were added to the 49ers’ 53-man roster this week, taking the spots of Thomas and Nick Bosa, who also sustained a season-ending knee injury.

Jordan will wear No. 96, the number he was assigned during training camp. He was promoted from the team’s practice squad to be available for the 49ers’ game Sunday against the New York Giants.

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Although the 49ers do not have any numbers in the 90s that have been retired, Shanahan said the volume of 49ers jerseys that are no longer in commission has created a problem. During training camp, there generally are a handful of numbers that are worn by a player on both sides of the ball.


“We just have an issue with retired numbers on our team,” Shanahan said. “That's why training camp is always very tough for us. So we’ve just retired, I think, too many numbers.”

Last season, veteran defensive tackle Earl Mitchell received permission from D.J. Jones to wear No. 93 in the playoffs after Jones was placed on injured reserve.

Ansah was originally assigned No. 98, but that belongs to Ronald Blair, a five-year veteran. Blair currently is on the physically-unable-to-perform list. He is expected to make a midseason return to action.

Last year, 49ers CEO Jed York said the days of the organization retiring numbers are likely over -- with, perhaps, some rare exceptions. He would like to honor the team’s great players but he also prefers to bring most of those numbers back into circulation.

The 49ers did not re-issue Bryant Young’s No. 97 for 10 years after his retirement. And no other player has worn No. 21 since the club failed to re-sign Frank Gore following the 2014 season.

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The 49ers have retired 12 numbers in franchise history -- exceeded only by the Chicago Bears and New York Giants (14 apiece).

Here are the 49ers’ retired numbers:

8-Steve Young

12-John Brodie

16-Joe Montana

34-Joe Perry

37-Jimmy Johnson

39-Hugh McElhenny

42-Ronnie Lott

70-Charlie Krueger

73-Leo Nomellini

79-Bob St. Clair

80-Jerry Rice

87-Dwight Clark