Remember the graybeards, because they are important.
These days, every NFL team wants to get younger and build around cheap players on rookie contracts, and for good reason. But every good team also has a group of five or six graybeards — veterans who are at least 30 years old and still excel and pass down the team culture to the new guys. A core of the right graybeards is essential to every important NFL franchise.
The New England Patriots have strong safety Patrick Chung (31), free safety Devin McCourty (31), cornerback Jason McCourty (31), wide receiver Julian Edelman (32), defensive end Michael Bennett (33) and quarterback Tom Brady (41).
The Los Angeles Rams have kicker Greg Zuerlein (31), outside linebacker Clay Matthews (32), cornerback Aqib Talib (33), free safety Eric Weddle (34) and left tackle Andrew Whitworth (37).
All of these players are good enough to start for the 49ers next season.
The 49ers have their own group of graybeards, a significant group for any team on the field and in the locker room. Some of these graybeard 49ers — but not all — would start for other teams. Here are the 49ers’ five best players in their 30s.
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