The 49ers have had so many injuries this year that they’re out of numbers.
Via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Friday that defensive end Ziggy Ansah will wear No. 94 for the 49ers. That’s the number currently worn by defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, who recently landed on injured reserve with a torn ACL.
Ansah asked Thomas for permission to wear the number, and Thomas agreed.
Shanahan explained that Ansah needed to wear No. 94 because the 49ers have too many retired numbers. To date, they have retired a dozen numbers: 8 (Steve Young), 12 (John Brodie), 16 (Joe Montana), 34 (Joe Perry), 37 (Jimmy Johnson), 39 (Hugh McElhenny), 42 (Ronnie Lott), 70 (Charlie Krueger), 73 (Leo Nomellini), 79 (Bob St. Clair), 80 (Jerry Rice), and 87 (Dwight Clark).
The retired numbers, however, don’t tell the whole story. By rule, defensive linemen can wear any number from 50 to 79 and 90 to 99. Based on the retired numbers and the numbers already issued to members of the roster, the practice squad, the PUP list, and injured reserve, Ansah could have worn 52, 72, 74, or 78. (Shon Coleman, who opted out, has No. 78; however, opt-out lineman Jake Brendel‘s No. 64 has been re-issued to defensive lineman Alex Barrett.)
No. 98 is also available; indeed, that’s the number assigned to Ansah on the official online roster.
So it’s not really about numbers not being available. It’s about Ansah wanting to wear No. 94, the number he wore during his time in Detroit and Seattle. Thanks to Thomas, Ansah will be able to do so.