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49ers Ultimate Draft matchups: Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens unstoppable duo

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Editor’s note: The voice of the 49ers, Greg Papa, takes on NBC Sports Bay Area 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco in the 49ers Ultimate Draft. They both chose a stacked squad full of legends from the past and your favorite players from today. Our team of experts will dissect and analyze the merits of each team until a winner is crowned.

The 49ers have produced some excellent players in their storied history, with many top talents fit for gold jackets. That makes for two stacked teams squaring off after this school-yard pick ‘em between our team captains.

Choosing one position group over the other is like picking between steak and lobster, especially if you compare a player’s dominance in a particular era. New isn’t always better, though the 1980s ushered in a dominant era that can’t be ignored.

Let’s take a look at who holds the upper hand between Maiocco or Papa from the 49ers Ultimate Draft:

Quarterback

Team Maiocco: I love the way Steve Young plays. He’s one of my favorite players to watch, like, ever, and in many ways, used traits now featured by the best modern NFL quarterbacks. He can run. He can chuck it all over the field. The guy’s a supreme talent. If only he weren’t compared to arguably the best (behind Brady) to ever do it.

Team Papa: Joe Montana’s 4-0 in Super Bowl. He’s as clutch as they come, hence the nickname Joe Cool.

 

Advantage: Team Papa

Running backs

Team Maiocco: Frank Gore’s the 49ers’ leading rusher, and it ain’t even close. He was awesome for a long time. The next runner? That’d be Joe “The Jet” Perry, an absolute stud who averaged 5.2 yards per carry. This is an example of someone who can’t be discounted just because you haven’t heard of him. Matty has a tough runner and a truly explosive one. That’s tough to beat.

Team Papa: Hugh McElhenny is considered among the most elusive runners in NFL history and Roger Craig was versatile and vital part of the 49ers’ West Coast offense. He was instrumental in the 49ers golden era, with more than 2,000 yards total offense twice in his career.

Advantage: Too close to call

Receivers

Team Maiocco: Dwight Clark made the best play in 49ers history. Billy Wilson was dominant in his era, someone I thoroughly enjoyed learning about during this 49ers Ultimate Draft. There’s no real comparison, however, to what Papa features in the pattern.

Team Papa: I’m not sure the title of great receiver ever fits Jerry Rice. Best player regardless of position seems more appropriate. Terrell Owens might be difficult, but he’s as dominant as anyone in any era, and he’s the No. 2 receiver. Goodness gracious. This might be the most dominant position group on the board.

Advantage: Team Papa

Tight end

Team Maiocco: George Kittle hasn’t been around long, but it’s already clear he’s a generational talent. He’s a ferocious blocker and an excellent receiving talent difficult to take down after the catch. He’s arguably the NFL’s best tight end, with a Pro Bowl and an All-Pro selection in three years. He doesn’t have a long track record, but he has great career in the making if he stays healthy.

Team Papa: Brent Jones is a quality player for a long time and an integral part of the Steve Young era going to four straight Pro Bowls.

Advantage: Team Maiocco

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Offensive line

Team Maiocco: Bob St. Clair and Joe Staley might be the franchise’s two best tackles. Matt has them both. Center Forrest Blue was a first-round pick and a two-time All-Pro. That line will be able to create plenty of place for Gore and Perry inside and out.

Team Papa: There’s a solid interior line here with Jesse Sapolu and Woody Peoples at guard. Randy Cross is a three-time Pro Bowler can play center or guard.

 

Advantage: Team Maiocco

Defensive line

Team Maiocco: Cedrick Hardman may be the 49ers sack leader if he played during an era where the stat was kept. Defensive tackle Leo Nomellini was as dominant as any in his era, with six All-Pros and a gold jacket to show for it. Fred Dean was another howler off the edge. Using an exception on DeForest Buckner was an interesting move on Matt’s part.

Team Papa: Charles Haley was among the best to ever rush the passer, especially during his time with the 49ers. Bryant Young was a standout on the interior line for 14 seasons. Charle Krueger was also a 49ers staple for a decade-plus. Dana Stubblefield was Defensive Player of the Year in 1997 but wasn’t as flashy over the long term.

Advantage: Team Maiocco

Linebackers

Team Maiocco: NaVorro Bowman was more than just partner in crime to Patrick Willis, with four All-Pro honors to show for it. Too bad he got hurt in brutal fashion. Dave Wilcox is a Hall of Famer and Matt Hazeltine was a featured 49er 14 solid season. Wilcox’s presence is the deciding factor here.

Team Papa: Patrick Willis was as good as they get at the position, a true defensive anchor. Frank Nunley was solid in the 1970s and Keena Turner could tackle as well as anyone.

Advantage: Team Maiocco

[RELATED: Ranking 49ers' top players of the 2000s]

Secondary

Team Maiocco: Ronnie Lott’s probably the best defensive player in 49ers history. He could do everything and was heavily involved in four Super Bowls. Eric Wright is a quality cornerback. Dwight Hicks went four straight Pro Bowls and had a nose for the ball and the end zone.

Team Papa: Deion Sanders played just one season for the 49ers but was an All-Pro and was an excellent use of Papa’s short-term-49er exemption. Jimmy Johnson was a legitimate shutdown cornerback at the best career 49er to ever play the position. Merton Hanks was pretty darn good in the 1990s and had 41 turnovers with the 49ers.

Advantage: Team Papa

Specialists

Team Maiocco: Tommy Davis had a massive leg, Joe Nedney spent the last part of his career in San Francisco and was a sharpshooter. John Taylor was a fan favorite at receiver but makes the team as a return man.

Team Papa: Punter Andy Lee gets points for longevity and quality shown by three All-Pro selections. Ray Wersching was a 49er forever but his field goal percentage was only so-so.

Advantage: Papa at punter, Maiocco at kicker

Coach

Team Maiocco: Do I have to explain why Bill Walsh was awesome? Innovator. Creative play-caller. Leader of man. One of the best ever.

 

Team Papa: George Seifert won a Super Bowl after Walsh moved on, but there’s still a big gap between him and his predecessor

Advantage: Team Maiocco

What we’re underestimating about…

Team Maiocco: The influence of a great coach. Some may raise an eyebrow at Bill Walsh as the first pick, but I can understand why he did it. Walsh’s particular brand of coaching could take a solid squad and take it to another level.

Team Papa: There’s so much offensive flash that easy to overlook another excellent position group. He took Montana at No. 2 and Rice at No. 3 and left Lott to Maiocco to take at No. 4, but he still compiled a terrific and complete secondary with two legitimate shutdown cornerbacks and quality at safety that will make life difficult on any passing offense. Yes, even one orchestrated by Walsh.

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