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And now for something completely irrelevant: preseason statistics.

I went back to 2006 and compiled a full tally of 49ers individual rushing yards. Why 2006? Because that’s where preseason stats begin on NFL.com, the only site I could find with annual player-by-player totals. To put the time frame in perspective, we’re talking about the second season logged by Alex Smith and Frank Gore.

Why add up preseason statistics at all? That one’s a little harder to answer. Call it a morbid curiosity. Every NFL beat writer in America has cited preseason stats in game stories, but they become meaningless as soon as the exhibition season ends. They are the vestigial appendixes or the deleted tweets of NFL numbers, immediately assigned to the realm of shadow-history. That makes them interesting to me.

Plus, I wanted to guess at the leaders on the list and see how close I came. Would Frank Gore lead the way, despite the TLC the 49ers have given him the last few years? (No.) Could someone who never even made the regular-season roster crack the top 10? (Yep.) As it turned out, there were some surprises here, at least for me.

And if nothing else, it gives us an opportunity to put Brandon Jacobs on some sort of all-time 49ers list.

Here are the Niners’ top 20 (preseason) ground gainers since 2006:

  1. Anthony Dixon 647
  2. Frank Gore 418
  3. Thomas Clayton 395*
  4. Kendall Hunter 362
  5. Colin Kaepernick 208
  6. Jewel Hampton 153
  7. Maurice Hicks 128
  8. LaMichael James 127
  9. Kory Sheets 126*
  10. Glen Coffee 120
  11. Shaun Hill 115
  12. Michael Robinson 111
  13. Zak Keasey 102
  14. Carlos Hyde 88
  15. Rock Cartwright 85*
  16. Nate Davis 80*
  17. Alex Smith 74
  18. Glenn Winston 58
  19. Colt McCoy 58
  20. Brandon Jacobs 39

*never played with 49ers in regular season (current rookies excluded)

Note: Boobie Dixon led the NFL with 300 preseason rushing yards in 2010 – and never gained that much in four regular seasons.

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