Best and worst of 49ers draft picks since 2000


Best and worst of 49ers draft picks since 2000

A year ago, you might have found quarterback Alex Smith's name on a list of the 49ers' worst draft picks. But, of course, things have changed in one season.And things might change again a year from now on the best list.Any conversation of the 49ers' recent draft success should include mentions of outside linebacker Aldon Smith and inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman. But both of those players have enjoyed just one season of success. To get on this list, players must sustain success over multiple seasons.And with that brief introduction, we present the best and worst 49ers draft picks since 2000...
Best draft picks
(Since 2000)1. LB Patrick Willis, 2007, first round
There was a large faction of 49ers fans who were calling for the team to fill a need and select defensive lineman Adam Carriker with the No. 11 pick. And there certainly was no consensus within the 49ers' draft room. Then-general manager Scot McCloughan determined that Carriker would be a solid player while Willis had a chance for super-stardom. He was correct. Willis is on a Hall-of-Fame pace with five Pro Bowl appearances in five NFL seasons. And if that's not enough, Willis has even made it into the Final Four of candidates to grace the cover of Madden '13.2. RB Frank Gore, 2005, third round
After the 49ers selected Gore with the No. 65 overall pick, Sports Illustrated called him the most overrated running back in the draft. Instead, Gore has been the most productive runner from the 2005 class. McCloughan took a chance on Gore, who sustained two torn ACLs at Miami, and Gore has responded with five 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He has never averaged less than 4.2 yards a carry during any of his seven seasons. With 7,625 rushing yards, Gore is the 49ers' all-time leader since the club joined the NFL in 1950.3. OL Eric Heitmann, 2002, seventh round
Terry Donahue's draft was otherwise forgettable, as cornerback Mike Rumph and linebacker Saleem Rasheed, the top two selections, never had much to offer. But in the seventh round the 49ers found a couple of good offensive linemen: Heitmann and Kyle Kosier. Heitmann had a solid career with the 49ers at guard and center before a neck injury cut his career short. But before his retirement, Heitmann was named as the winner of the Bobb McKittrick Award for three consecutive seasons (2006-2008).

Honorable mention: OLB Aldon Smith, first round 2011; TE Vernon Davis, first round, 2006; LB NaVorro Bowman, third round, 2010; NT Isaac Sopoaga, fourth round, 2004; S Dashon Goldson, fourth round, 2007; P Andy Lee, sixth round, 2004; LS Brian Jennings, seventh round, 2000.Worst draft picks
(Since 2000)

1. DL Kentwan Balmer, 2008, first round
The 49ers were looking to strengthen their defensive line, so McCloughan took Balmer, who had one good season at North Carolina, with the No. 29 overall pick. Balmer missed his flight to the Bay Area the next morning. And that pretty much sums up his forgettable tenure with the 49ers. In two seasons with the 49ers, he never started a game. When he saw himself slipping down the depth chart in training camp of 2010, Balmer quit and forced a trade. The Seattle Seahawks took him off the 49ers' hands for just a sixth-round draft pick. The Seahawks got rid of him after one season.2. WR Rashaun Woods, 2004, first round
The 49ers originally had the 16th pick that year, but Donahue traded back a couple of times and landed Woods with the No. 31 overall pick. Woods' arrival came after the 49ers parted ways with Terrell Owens. Woods was even issued No. 81. But Woods' true passion was fishing. He caught just seven passes for 160 yards as a rookie, and the following year the 49ers were quick to place him on injured reserve with a thumb injury. Then, he was traded to San Diego for cornerback, Sammy Davis, who played one season for the 49ers.3. S Taylor Mays, 2010, second round
Definitely a member of the all-hype team, Mays came to the 49ers with a big name after being promoted throughout his college career at USC as a future first-round draft pick. Mays was a workout warrior at the NFL scouting combine. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Mays definitely looked the part. Trent Baalke, who ran the draft, allowed coach Mike Singletary to make the call. Mays got his chance to play as a rookie when veteran safety Michael Lewis left the team. But Mays could not hold onto the starting job. After Singletary was fired, the 49ers traded Mays after just one season to the Cincinnati Bengals for a seventh-round pick in the 2013 draft.Dishonorable mention: OT Kwame Harris, first round, 2003; CB Mike Rumph, first round, 2002; G Chilo Rachal, second round, 2008; QB Giovanni Carmazzi, third round, 2000; LB Saleem Rasheed, third round, 2002; DE Andrew Williams, 2003; WR Derrick Hamilton, third round, 2004; WR Brandon Williams, third round, 2006.

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts


Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.

Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.

Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.

Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.

Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.

The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.

Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.

An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations


An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

If the 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are unable to reach a multi-year contract extension by March 6, the 49ers have no other choice but to designate him as their franchise player.

The estimated one-year salary for the franchise tag would be $23.307 million, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry, whose work now appears at CBS Sports. (That is assuming a 2018 league-wide salary cap of $178.1 million per team.)

There is a lot to consider for both sides as they look to enter into a long-term contract. Corry said if a deal is struck, he would expect it to be in the neighborhood of Derek Carr’s five-year, $125 million deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason.

“And then there’s the other dynamic, which I would not undersell or I think may not be appreciated as much as it should be,” Corry said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “(Garoppolo’s agent) Don Yee has a reputation – no fault of his own – of doing team-friendly deals.”

Yee also represents New England quarterback Tom Brady, whose average of $20.5 million annual pay ranks 15th among NFL quarterbacks. Brady is underpaid by design, Corry said, because one of the great quarterbacks of all-time realizes it helps the Patriots to maintain a strong supporting cast.

“That’s because Tom Brady dictates, ‘I want to do something good for the team, take less money so we can improve the roster to win Super Bowls.’ That’s not Don Yee who wants to do that,” Corry said.

“The agent works for the player, so he’s executing Tom Brady’s wishes. But he gets that held against him in recruiting. So this is his opportunity to erase that perception if Garoppolo allows him to do his job and gives him latitude to strike the deal that he feels is appropriate.”

For more on the potential negotiating strategies of both sides, listen here to the 49ers Insider Podcast.