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Ronnie Lott - nate_64_9ers
The arrival of Ronnie Lott was a landmark moment that forever changed the future of the the San Francisco 49ers and the entire NFL. The year was 1981 and Lott was selected 8th overall from USC in the first round of the NFL draft. He joined a struggling franchise and quickly became a starter at left cornerback and leader of the youngest secondary in the league. While registering 8 interceptions and returning 3 for touchdowns, he helped lead the 49ers' on a cinderella quest all the way to it's very first Super Bowl championship. That 49ers excellence continued for ten years as the team won eight NFC West division titles, made six NFC Championship appearances, and won four Super Bowl championships. The team's reign of dominance was a called a dynasty and they were crowned "Team of the Decade" for the 1980's. Yes, the arrival of Ronnie Lott in 1981 was the start of something special.
In 14 seasons, Lott had 63 interceptions, which he returned for 730 yards and five touchdowns. He recovered 17 fumbles, returned them for 43 yards, and gained 113 yards on kickoff returns, recorded 8.5 quarterback sacks, amassed over 1,000-career tackles, and had five seasons of at least 100 tackles or more. He played and started in 20 postseason games, recording nine interceptions, 89 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and two touchdowns. A versatile and complete athlete, he played left and right cornerback and free and strong safety, all four defensive secondary positions. He was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection, 8-time "All-Pro" selection, and also named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team. Although he played two seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders (1991-1992) and two seasons with the New York Jets (1993-1994), Lott is most remembered and associated as a superstar member of the San Fransico 49ers (1981-1990).
Often forgotten, Lott did return home to the 49ers in 1995 for a comeback, but injuries forced him to announce his retirement before the season opened. In 2000, he was a first ballot selection and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio along with fellow 49er legend and teammate Joe Montana. Since his retirement, Lott has remained close to the game and the 49ers by working in journalism, TV broadcasting and various football analyst coverages. In 2003, the 49ers retired his jersey number 42.
Overall, Ronnie Lott was easily the greatest defensive players in 49ers history, and argueably one of the best-ever in NFL history. Known for his hard-hitting style and ferocious on-field presence, his reputation was synonymous with striking fear and intimidation in the hearts' of his opponents. A valueable leader and proud person, he was well- respected throughout the league. “He’s like a middle linebacker playing safety,” Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry once stated. “He’s devastating. He may dominate the secondary better than anyone I’ve seen.” He literally met, and surpassed, the football motto of "leave it all on the field," when in 1985 he chose to have his left pinky finger amputated in order to remain playing and not risk missing future games due to his injury. That story has grown over the years into a bit of exaggerated NFL lore, but nevertheless, his dedication to team and drive to succeed has never faded or dulled. Ronnie Lott was pure football, pure 49er.