1. Garrison Hearst: Hearst’s amazing and heartwarming story has to rank among the greatest comebacks in NFL history. Perhaps never has a player deserved NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors more than Hearst, who won that award in 2001 — after going 32 months between appearances in a San Francisco uniform. After setting a franchise record with 1,570 rushing yards in 1998, Hearst broke his left ankle during the first play of a January playoff game. Circulatory problems triggered a rare form of avascular necrosis that caused degeneration of the talus bone in his ankle. After four surgeries — including two radical procedures to stimulate blood flow to dying portions of the bone — Hearst returned after missing two full seasons, becoming the first player in NFL history to return from such an injury. Hearst promptly picked up where left off, leading the 49ers with 1,206 yards rushing and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl, then rushing for a combined 1,740 yards over the next two seasons.
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