Breaking down the San Francisco 49ers 2010s all-decade team was a walk down memory lane. The San Francisco 49ers enjoyed success in the first part of the decade but fell on hard times as the years went on. When they rebounded and went to the Superbowl last season, it was their first visit to the post-season since 2013. While the decade saw some of the best players to ever wear the 49ers uniform, it also saw more than its fair share of forgettable players. On offense, the best running back in 49ers history, Frank Gore, was a force and on defense, Patrick Willis dominated games as nobody has before or since in the red and gold. Both players were among those selected for the official NFL all-decade team.
We focused on the Offense last time so this time we’re going to take a look at the 49ers All-Decade defense. Let’s get started.
San Francisco 49ers 2010s All-Decade Team Defense
Defensive End: Nick Bosa
Can a player who has only been in the league for one season really be considered for the 49ers All-Decade team? If that player is Nick Bosa, the answer is yes. Bosa absolutely took over games last season, leading a defensive unit that took the 49ers back to the Super Bowl. He was the second pick overall in the 2019 NFL draft and made an immediate impact. The former Ohio State Buckeye had nine sacks as a rookie, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. He pressured the quarterback all year long and made big plays consistently.
Defensive End: Aldon Smith
Statistically, Aldon Smith was a monster in his first three years in the NFL. He tallied a ridiculous 42 sacks over his first three years. His second year in the league he put up 19.5 sacks, alongside 68 tackles and an interception. He looked like he was on his way to being one of the best players in the league. He ran into a series of drug arrests and legal issues and in 2015 the 49ers cut ties with him. A year later he was out of the league. He has been reinstated this off-season and will play for the Cowboys. It would be great to see him return to form, but the jury is still out.
Defensive Tackle: DeForest Buckner
DeForest Buckner was traded this off-season to the Indianapolis Colts for the 13th pick in the draft. Prior to that, he’d become a dominant force in the middle of the defensive line. Buckner was a rookie in 2016 and immediately started playing for the 49ers. His rookie season he had 73 tackles, six sacks, and two fumble recoveries.
Defensive Tackle: Justin Smith
Justin Smith was perhaps more known for his role as a defensive end during his stint as a 49er. That said, he was a Pro Bowl player at both defensive end and defensive tackle. He was the heart of the defense for in the first half of the decade and his grit and determination was the stuff of legend.
Inside Linebacker: Patrick Willis
Patrick Willis was the best middle linebacker in football and ruled the field from sideline to sideline during his time with the 49ers. Willis routinely put up triple-digit tackles but his true impact on the team couldn’t be measured with statistics alone. He had a Mike Tyson aura. He shook opposing players with his mere presence. Willis dominated games and put fear in opposing players with his incredible hits.
Inside Linebacker: NaVorro Bowman – 2010-2017
NaVorro Bowman played alongside Patrick Willis creating the best middle linebacker pairing in the NFL. Bowman led the NFL in tackles in 2015 hanging up a mind-blowing 154 tackles on the season. He missed the entire 2014 season after sustaining a major knee injury in the NFC Championship game the previous season. Simply put, he and Willis were un unstoppable duo who led by fear and intimidation.
Outside Linebacker: Ahmad Brooks
Ahmad Brooks is often overlooked as a 49er but he was a force on the outside and ranks third all-time in sacks among 49ers players. Brooks racked up an impressive 51.5 sacks in his time in San Francisco. He was acquired from Cincinnati after being waived and that move immediately began to pay dividends for the 49ers. He is the best outside linebacker to play this decade for the 49ers.
Cornerback: Richard Sherman
If you’re a 49ers fan, you couldn’t stand Richard Sherman up until the moment when he signed with the team. In his two years in San Francisco, he has shown off his talents as a shut-down corner and more than that he’s become the defensive leader for one of the youngest and most talent-laden teams in the league.
Safety: Dashon Goldson
Safety was a relatively weak spot for the 49ers but Dashon Goldson played well during his time by the Bay. He racked up nine interceptions combined in 2011 and 2012. He was a big hitter in the secondary and played well enough to earn a big free-agent contract in 2013 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Safety: Donte Whitner
Known throughout his career as “Donte Hitner,” he packed a punch in the 49ers secondary. He never met a ball-carrier he didn’t want to smash and was a hitting machine. Whitner was a fan favorite and despite his relatively brief time in San Fransico, he certainly made an impact.