For the first time since leaving in 2015, Frank Gore will face the 49ers in Indianapolis on Sunday. Gore, the all-time leading rusher in San Francisco history, is still proving effective as the feature back for the Colts at the ripe age of 33, and has proven that there was plenty left in the tank when the 49ers elected not to re-sign him two years ago. It’s great to see one of the greatest 49ers ever still having an impact.
The upcoming reunion with Gore got us thinking: How have other notable former 49ers fared when playing San Francisco over the past few years? It hasn’t happened often, but lets take a look at the few notable instances since 2002. Videos included when available.
2002 – 49ers 23 @ Raiders 20
Jerry Rice: 6 REC, 74 YDS
A dominant performance by Terrell Owens overshadowed Jerry Rice’s first game against the 49ers, something that was also the case in Rice’s last game in a 49er uniform, where Owens set the NFL record for catches in a single game (20). In this contest, Owens caught 12 passes for 191 yards, a feat made even more impressive considering he frequently lined up against surefire Hall of Fame cornerback Charles Woodson. Rice had a solid game, but didn’t exactly make a splash against the team that let him walk a year before. A Jose Cortez field goal won the game in overtime for San Francisco.
2005 – 49ers: 3 @ Eagles: 42
Terrell Owens: 5 REC, 143 yards, 2 TDs
Unlike Rice, Owens was dominant in the first game against his former team, and let his play do the talking after 49ers linebacker Derek Smith told reporters midweek, “I think we’re better off without him, absolutely better off without him. I don’t think he buys into anything but his own thing.” Owens’ own thing was on display on this particular afternoon where he scored two 40-plus TD receptions before halftime. 49ers quarterback Tim Rattay threw three interceptions.
2007 – Bucs: 19 @ 49ers: 21
Jeff Garcia: 12/20, 196 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 60 COMP %, 109.6 Rating
Garcia made just a cameo appearance in the only game he ever played against the 49ers, seeing the field for a quarter and a half as the Bucs had already clinched a playoff birth. Garcia, four years removed from his time in San Francisco, helped turn around a Tampa Bay team that finished 4-12 the previous season, and went on to make the fourth and final Pro Bowl of his career.
2008 – 49ers: 22 @ Cowboys: 35
Terrell Owens: 7 REC, 213 YDS, 1 TD
Owens continued his habit of dominating performances at Texas Stadium, only this time he was representing the star he once infamously disrespected. Owens was even more spectacular than he was in his first game against San Francisco, and his 213 receiving yards were the third-highest single game total of his career. Owens broke the game open on a 71-yard TD pass from Tony Romo in the second quarter.
2014 – Chiefs: 17 @ 49ers: 22
Alex Smith: 16/30, 158 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT
Alex Smith looked to impress against Colin Kaepernick, who took his job two years prior, but struggled to get anything going against Vic Fangio and the 49ers defense. Kap on the other hand was solid, throwing for 201 yards and a touchdown. Few could’ve imagined that just three years later, Smith would be playing the best football of his career at age 33, and Kaepernick would be out of the league.
All the facts and figures used in this piece were gathered using the analytics platform called Looker. Make sure to check them out for user friendly dashboards, visualizations, and data analysis.