How 49ers can make NFL draft history with win in NFC Championship Game

How 49ers can make NFL draft history with win in NFC Championship Game

The last time the 49ers selected a skill-position player on offense in the first round of the NFL draft, he totaled a whopping zero yards for San Francisco. 

A.J. Jenkins is a name to forget for 49ers fans. San Francisco selected the wide receiver No. 30 overall in the 2012 draft. He lasted one season with the 49ers and didn't record a single stat. 

Jenkins then played two seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he had 17 receptions for 223 yards. Since drafting Jenkins, the 49ers went five straight years going defensive in the first round of the draft, before taking Mike McGlinchey in 2018. They grabbed defensive end Nick Bosa with the No. 2 pick last year. 

With defense-heavy drafts in the first round, the 49ers can make history on Sunday if they beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, San Francisco would become the seventh team in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl without a pass, rush or catch from a former first-round pick. 

But the stat comes with a twist. Not to be that guy, but Bosa did record a catch on defense this season when he intercepted Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen in Week 8 during the 49ers' 51-13 blowout win. The rookie even ran 46 yards after the INT.

Josh Dubow of the Associated Press also notes offensive tackle Joe Staley, who the 49ers selected with the No. 28 overall pick in the 2007 draft, did record a catch against the Denver Broncos in 2008. But Staley lost five yards. 

All jokes aside, the 49ers will have multiple former first-round picks contributing Sunday at Levi's Stadium. If San Francisco wants to go to Miami for Super Bowl LIV, they will need big days out of Bosa, Staley, McGlinchey, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Jimmie Ward. 

[RELATED: Why Jimmy G compared self to Rodgers before 2014 draft]

The 49ers also will get plenty of big plays from recent draft picks that came after the first round, like George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo (drafted by the New England Patriots), Deebo Samuel, Dre Greenlaw, Fred Warner and many more.

While the stat might appear to be a detriment to past 49ers drafts, that's far from the truth. It first shows their strategy of building the defense, which has paid dividends this season, and their ability to find production from players later in the draft or those who were undrafted like running backs Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert.

From top to bottom, the 49ers will need a big day from their former draft picks.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday)

Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

The NFL’s playoff structure is expected to change to reportedly include seven teams in both conferences to advance to the postseason.

The current proposal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, would add one playoff team in each conference and only the top seed in the AFC and NFC would be rewarded with byes in the first round of the playoffs.

The changes to the playoff format would take effect this season when the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified. ESPN reports there is “mounting optimism” the new CBA will be agreed upon within the week.

Through last season, the top six teams in both conferences made the playoffs. If the playoff proposal had been in effect last season, the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers would have advanced to the playoffs as the Nos. 7 seeds.

As the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the 49ers would have still earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. But the Green Bay Packers, the No. 2 seed, would have played in the extra game against the Rams. If the Rams were to have upset the Packers in the wild-card round, the 49ers would have played Los Angeles in the NFC Divisional Playoff instead of the Minnesota Vikings.

But the new proposal would have had an even more major impact in the AFC, where the Kansas City Chiefs would have been forced to win three games in the playoffs just to advance to the Super Bowl.

"That's been agreed to for a long time," one source familiar with the CBA talks told ESPN about the NFL's new playoff structure. "There wasn't a lot of disagreement to that issue."

[RELATED49ers roster analysis: More receiver depth needed around Deebo Samuel]

Players on the top team in each conference will receive postseason pay for the bye weekend, unlike years past, according to the report.

Also, ESPN reported that the sides are also trying to work through a proposal for a 17-game regular season, while the exhibition season is shortened to three games. The earliest that change could occur would be the 2021 season, according to the report.

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Before the 49ers officially had lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end George Kittle was already preaching they would be back next year.

But it didn't stop with him.

49ers players throughout the roster already are thinking of everything they can do to make another run at it, and that includes bringing back free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Fellow wideout Deebo Samuel made it clear Wednesday on Twitter that he wants to see the 49ers bring back the 32-year-old veteran.

Sanders showed his appreciation later Wednesday morning.

After coming over from the Denver Broncos via trade in October, Sanders excelled with the 49ers. He caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, and added five receptions for 71 yards in the postseason.

But Sanders could have been an even more critical part of 49ers lore, had it not been for Jimmy Garoppolo's overthrown pass with less than two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LIV. But it was not meant to be.

Sanders has been open about his love for the team that had just barely missed the championship and has spoken out about those second-guessing him due to his age. 

The receiver laughed at the fact that he has been "flying past 23-year-olds," and exhorted that he still has plenty of good years left in him.

[RELATED: Sanders offers advice to teammates playing in first Super Bowl]

He also embraced the youth the other wide receivers brought to the team, such as Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Sanders loved the loose vibes of the 49ers' locker room and assisted the younger players in prepping for the big moments of the Super Bowl. 

Deebo surely noticed that and knows he wants his teammate back for the team's quest to make another Super Bowl run next season.