Does Tony Parrish Upgrade The 49ers Secondary?
May 16 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Ok, so we’ve all had some time to think about losing Lance Schulters and replacing him with Tony Parrish. Now it’s time to really consider if this move was as good or bad as some people believed when it was made. Although we’re not casting votes here, this may provide some interesting fuel for the forum….
In Lance Schulters the 49ers had a former Pro Bowl safety that could play the run and the pass. Schulters could play either safety position, but excelled at free safety, a position he was forced out of due to the makeup of the rest of the 49ers defensive backfield. Truth be told, had Schulters been able to concentrate on only one position throughout his career the team may not have been so quick to replace. His agents aside, Schulters was a great player and person to this team.
In Tony Parrish the 49ers have a former Pro Bowl safety that can play the run and the pass. He’s an extremely hard hitter and may be marginally faster than Schulters. He can play both positions but excels at strong safety. Parrish wanted to be with the 49ers this season.
The two of these players are so evenly matched it is quite hard to decide on a clear cut winner. But the 49ers may have indeed done well. Certainly there doesn’t appear to be a drop off in talent, and they did save money with Parrish. Parrish’s natural ability to play strong safety may fit the 49ers roster a little bit better two.
Despite some people being quick to compare either of these two safeties to Ronnie Lott, truth be told, neither is of that stature. Lott was not only so tough he had part of a finger amputated so he could continue playing in a game, but he also played both safety positions, cornerback and linebacker throughout his career with the team. Somehow he still found greatness. Schutlers and Parrish are both tough guys, playing through dislocated shoulder and groin injuries (respectively) these two certainly leave it all on the field. They are great players, who is better? That we really don’t know. It seems awfully hard to justify that either could keep pace with Lott though -and Lott is the benchmark for a safety in San Francisco.