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San Francisco 49ers: Reviewing The Last 20 Years of First Round Picks

Posted on March 07, 2010 by Blaine Spence
Dana Stubblefield proved to be great value for the 26th pick in the 1993 NFL Draft.

Dana Stubblefield proved to be great value for the 26th pick in the 1993 NFL Draft.

The San Francisco 49ers have two first-round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. With two picks, how could you go wrong? Well, in the last twenty years, the 49ers have had two first-round picks five times (and one year with no first round pick at all) with varying degrees of success. Here is a look back at the last twenty years of 49er first-round selections.

1990     No. 25     Dexter Carter                RB     Florida State

Does anyone else remember Dexter “Fumble” Carter? He was used mostly as a returner and never managed to crack the starting lineup as a running back. He debuted in San Francisco with eight fumbles his first season. Dexter did manage to stick around the NFL for seven years and a total of 33 fumbles. Grade D

1991     No. 25     Ted Washington        DT     University of Louisville

This is a tough one to call. Washington has been described as the premier nose tackle of his era, yet the 49ers let him go after three seasons for a fifth-round draft selection. Perhaps they didn’t see him progressing as much as they liked, or they thought he was better suited as a true nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme and were unwilling to abandon the 4-3 that they ran at the time. Grade C+

1992     No. 18     Dana Hall                DB     University of Washington

Another three-year wonder, Hall just plain stunk. Do you smell toast? Grade D

1993     No. 26     Dana Stubblefield      DT     University of Kansas

The 49ers made amends for trading Washington as Stubblefield was named Defensive Rookie of the Year on his way to a long, decorated career in San Fran. Grade A

No.27     Todd Kelly                DE     University of Tennessee

Lighting did not strike twice for the team in 1993 as their second defensive lineman  drafted in the first round was a clear bust. Two years was enough of this guy. Kelly was drafted to man the team’s “elephant” position, he didn’t make the grade. Grade F

1994      No. 7     Bryant Young           DT     Notre Dame

Three is a charm as the third defensive lineman picked in the first round in the last two years is BY! This man is one of the best players, and classiest acts, to ever have worn a 49ers’ uniform. Stubblefield owes many of his accolades to Young, as BY often occupied a double team to free Dana up—what a great tandem! Each of them earned a Defensive Player of the Year trophy during their stints as Niners. Grade A+

No. 28     William Floyd            RB     Florida State

With their second pick in the 1994 first round, the 49ers opted to pick William Floyd, otherwise know as “Bar None.” His nickname was coined in reference to how he described himself as the best fullback in the game—bar none. He arguably was too, until his devastating knee injury in 1996. Grade B+

1995      No. 10     J. J. Stokes                WR     UCLA

The 49ers were so enamored with the receiver that they traded away their 1996 No. 1 pick to move to the ten spot in this draft and take Stokes. Now Stokes was a serviceable receiver, but he certainly never played up to expectations. The sacrifice of the following year’s No. 1 pick makes this a disaster. Grade D-

1996 No draft pick—see above—but we did get Israel Ifeanyi in the second—ouch!

Selecting Jim Druckenmiller instead of Jake Plummer proved to be a huge error by the 49ers.

Selecting Jim Druckenmiller instead of Jake Plummer proved to be a huge error by the 49ers.

1997     No. 26     Jim Druckenmiller     QB     Virginia Tech

The 49ers could have taken Jake Plummer here, as Bill Walsh had suggested, and in retrospect should have. Druckenmiller never saw significant playing time and became the biggest quarterback bust in 49ers’ history. Grade F

1998     No. 28     R.W. McQuarters     CB     Oklahoma State University

After two disappointing seasons, the 49ers traded McQuarters to the Bears in a cost-cutting move. This could have been another case of parting ways too early as McQuarters went on to have a respectable career with the Bears, Lions , and even winning a Super Bowl ring with the Giants . Grade C-

1999     No. 24     Reggie McGrew     DT     University of Florida

Nine tackles in 22 games over two seasons. Can you say “bust”? Grade F

2000     No. 16     Julian Peterson     LB     Michigan State University

You could literally line JP up anywhere on the defensive side of the field. How many linebackers could be used as a defensive back and shut down the league’s most prolific tight end (at his peak) in Tony Gonzalez? I wish we had never let this guy go. Grade A

No. 24     Ahmed Plummer     CB     Ohio State University

Another two-pick first round and the 49ers select the cornerback from Ohio State. The only problem with Plummer was he wasn’t around long enough, as injuries forced his retirement in 2006. Grade B+

2001      No. 7     Andre Carter     DE     University of California—Berkeley
His first two years (6.5 sacks rookie season and 12.5 the following year) gave fans hope that they had found the next pass rushing demon, but after a disappointing 2004 and 2005, Carter was let go to the Redskins, where his career has been rejuvenated. Grade B

2002      No. 27     Mike Rumph                 CB     University of Miami

A lot of pundits thought that Rumph was more suited to be a safety in the NFL—perhaps they were right. Rumph never excelled at corner. Grade D-

2003     No. 26     Kwame Harris     OT     Stanford

Well, I could attach a YouTube video of Harris here, but I think that has been done. He wasn’t the greatest, but at least he cracked the starting lineup—and look at all the money the Raiders gave him. Grade D-

2004     No. 31     Rashaun Woods     WR     Oklahoma State

Seven receptions for 160 yards, not a bad game, eh? Oh yeah, that is for his career…last known playing in Canada circa 2007. Need I say more? Grade F

2005     No. 1     Alex Smith                 QB     University of Utah

So many people would just love to give Alex a big fat “F” here, but the man has persevered, and the last time I checked, he is the 49ers’ starting quarterback. All of his issues have been well-documented, so I will leave it at that. He has done much to raise his grade this past year, but can he raise it even more in 2010? Grade C+

The jury is still out on Alex Smith's time with the 49ers.

The jury is still out on Alex Smith's time with the 49ers.

2006     No. 6     Vernon Davis                 TE     University of Maryland

If Davis can eliminate the drops, he would get an A+ for last year alone. But given his first few years, I can’t justify grading him that high—not yet. Grade B+

No. 22     Manny Lawson     LB     North Carolina State

A knee injury kept Lawson from developing into the type of player the 49ers were hoping to get with this selection. But Manny bounced back nicely last season, as in some games he was all over the field. But why did Sing start benching him in pass rush situations for Ahmed Brooks? Grade B-

2007    No. 11     Patrick Willis                 LB     University of Mississippi

Does anything really need to be said here? Grade A+

No. 28     Joe Staley                OT     Central Michigan

The 49ers traded up to get Staley, and Staley repaid the club by becoming one of their most dependable linemen. This two-pick first round would have to be considered the 49ers’ best. Grade A

2008     No. 29     Kentwan Balmer     DT     University of North Carolina

It is not looking good for Balmer, but let’s give him another year. Grade Incomplete

2009     No. 10     Michael Crabtree WR     Texas Tech

The 49ers were all set to take Michael Oher with this pick when Crabtree fell into their lap. After an extended hold out which caused Crabtree to miss all of training camp and the team’s first five games, this rookie proved he is the real deal. Now, this is an early grade and could still conceivably drop, but I doubt it. Grade A-

2010        TBA

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