Best NFL Players Ever Each Team NFC West
The NFC West, a division steeped in rich football tradition and fierce rivalries, has been a cradle for some of the NFL’s most legendary talents. From the soaring Seahawks along the Pacific coast to the golden eras of the 49ers, from the relentless drive of the Cardinals to the indomitable spirit of the Rams, these teams have given fans moments of magic and memories for a lifetime. Picture those unforgettable Sundays, when these gridiron giants battled it out, etching their names into the very fabric of the NFC West. Let’s embark on a journey, revisiting the best NFL players who have ever defined each team in this illustrious division.
Best 49ers Player Ever – Jerry Rice
Runner Ups: Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Steve Young
Jerry Rice is not only often celebrated as the best 49ers player of all time, but he’s also frequently hailed as the greatest wide receiver, if not the greatest football player, in NFL history. Here’s why:
- Unmatched Career Longevity and Production: Jerry Rice’s career spanned over two decades, from 1985 to 2004, with the majority of his tenure at San Francisco. Throughout these years, he maintained an exceptionally high level of production. His longevity in such a physically demanding position is a testament to his commitment, fitness, and natural talent.
- Record-Breaking Statistics: Rice’s stats speak for themselves. He is the all-time leader in most major receiving categories, including receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895), and touchdowns (197). These numbers are a testament to his consistency and dominance over the span of his career.
- Super Bowl Success: Rice played pivotal roles in three Super Bowl victories for the 49ers (Super Bowl XXIII, XXIV, and XXIX). His performances in these championship games were legendary, particularly in Super Bowl XXIII, where he was named Super Bowl MVP after amassing 215 receiving yards.
- Work Ethic and Dedication: Rice was renowned for his work ethic. Tales of his off-season hill running workouts are part of NFL folklore. This dedication to conditioning and route perfection made him virtually unstoppable on the field.
- Versatility: While primarily a deep threat due to his speed and route-running, Rice could do it all. Whether it was going over the middle, catching a screen pass, or even rushing the ball, he was a multi-faceted weapon for the 49ers’ offense.
- Clutch Performances: Great players are often defined by how they perform in critical moments. Time and time again, Rice rose to the occasion, making defining catches in tight games and always seeming to shine brightest on the biggest stages.
- Legacy: Jerry Rice’s influence goes beyond just his on-field achievements. He set a standard for future generations of wide receivers, showing them the level of dedication and craft mastery required to truly excel in the NFL.
Given all these factors, it’s clear why many consider Jerry Rice not just the best player to ever don a 49ers uniform, but also one of the greatest, if not the greatest, to play the game of football.
Best Seahawks Player Ever – Steve Largent
Runner Ups: Walter Jones, Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson
Steve Largent, while not always the first name that springs to mind in discussions of the NFL’s all-time greats, undoubtedly stands tall as the best Seahawks players in the franchise’s history. Here’s why Steve Largent holds this esteemed position:
- Trailblazing Statistics: Before the likes of Jerry Rice came onto the scene, Largent was setting the standard. When he retired in 1989, he held all major NFL receiving records, including most career receptions (819), receiving yards (13,089), and receiving touchdowns (100). These statistics were achieved during an era when the passing game wasn’t as dominant as it is today.
- Loyalty to the Franchise: Largent spent his entire 14-year NFL career with the Seahawks, from 1976 to 1989. This kind of loyalty is increasingly rare in the modern sports world and cements his legacy in the heart of the 12th Man—the Seahawks’ ardent fanbase.
- Craft Over Flash: Largent was never the fastest or the most physically imposing receiver, but he was a master technician. His precise route running, sure hands, and incredible field awareness made him a nightmare matchup for defenders.
- Leader On and Off the Field: As a team captain, Largent was a locker room leader, mentoring younger players and setting the tone for the team’s work ethic and determination. Off the field, his character shone through in his community involvement and later his political career, exemplifying the role of a sportsman in society.
- Memorable Moments: One of the most iconic plays of Largent’s career came in 1988 when he exacted revenge on Denver Broncos safety Mike Harden. Harden had delivered a crushing, and illegal, hit on Largent earlier in the season, causing him to miss several games. When they met again, Largent not only caught a touchdown pass over Harden but also famously forced a fumble on him after an interception, showcasing his determination and resilience.
- Legacy: Steve Largent was the first player in Seahawks history to have his jersey number (#80) retired. This act solidified his status as a franchise icon. His influence can still be seen today in receivers who prioritize precision and skill over raw athleticism.
- Hall of Fame Recognition: Largent’s brilliance was recognized with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995, his first year of eligibility. This honor underscores his impact on the game and his standing among the all-time greats.
Considering all these achievements and his unwavering commitment to the Seahawks, it’s clear why Steve Largent is often regarded as the best player in the history of the franchise.
Best Rams Player Ever – Aaron Donald
Runner Ups: Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, Jack Youngblood