NaVorro Bowman

Best, worst 49ers' picks in each round of NFL draft over past decade

Best, worst 49ers' picks in each round of NFL draft over past decade

The 49ers have experienced a few home runs, along with many swings and misses, over the past decade of NFL drafts.

Here are their best and worst picks in each round since 2010. (Beginning with the fifth round, there is no need to list worst picks.)

First round

Best: Although the 49ers selected Arik Armstead in the first round the previous year, the 49ers went back to defensive tackle to land DeForest Buckner at No. 7 overall in 2016. Buckner was the team’s best player for most of the four seasons he played for the club. Buckner was so good that the 49ers got four years out of him and then flipped him this offseason to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 overall pick. The Colts awarded Buckner a contract that pays him $21 million annually. Armstead (2015), Mike McGlinchey (2018) and Nick Bosa (2019) are also looking good.

Worst: The 49ers traded up to get back into the first round to select Joshua Garnett in 2016. That made little sense at the time because there seemed to be a disconnect between GM Trent Baalke and coach Chip Kelly as to the kind of linemen who were fits for the system. Garnett started 11 games as a rookie, then battled injuries and is now out of the league. Reuben Foster (2017) and A.J. Jenkins (2012) did not turn out well. Solomon Thomas could ultimately go down as the worst pick because of the great players the 49ers passed up at No. 3 overall to select him.

Second round

Best: It could end up being wide receiver Deebo Samuel (2019) or safety Jaquiski Tartt (2015), but for now the best selection goes to Colin Kaepernick, who was an effective quarterback for the team on its 2012 run to the Super Bowl and the following season. Kaepernick started 58 regular-season games for the 49ers, during which time the club went 28-30.

Worst: The 49ers selected running back LaMichael James in 2012 despite Frank Gore having plenty of good seasons left in him. James appeared in just 15 regular-season games. He never scored a touchdown and lost five fumbles with the club, including a big turnover in the Super Bowl. The selection of Taylor Mays (2010) was pretty bad, too. He lasted just one season before he was traded away.

Third round

Best: The third round has been a sweet spot for the 49ers to find linebackers. NaVorro Bowman (2010) is the best third-round selection for the 49ers of the past decade. Fred Warner (2018) managed to step in as an immediate starter -- something even Bowman did not accomplish. Bowman was a four-time All-Pro selection whose career was cut short due to injuries.

Worst: This is a toss-up between Will Redmond (2016) and Corey Lemonier (2013). We’ll go with Redmond because he was one of Baalke’s many ACL picks that never panned out. Redmond never played a snap for the 49ers. To his credit, Redmond saw action in 13 games with two starts last season with the Green Bay Packers. Lemonier was a pass-rusher who registered just one sack for the 49ers in 42 games.

Fourth round

Best: There’s not a lot from which to choose for the 49ers in the fourth round. But based on his longevity -- most of it after leaving the 49ers -- the honor goes to offensive lineman Joe Looney (2012). Looney has started 30 games in his career, mostly with the Dallas Cowboys. He started four games with the 49ers in 2014.

Worst: This is also a difficult call for different reasons. Running back Marcus Lattimore (2013) was a person of such high character that the 49ers thought it was worth the gamble. But even he says he was shocked the 49ers drafted him because of his significant knee injury. There were plenty of red flags in the past that should have warned the 49ers against drafting cornerback Rashard Robinson (2016) or running back Joe Williams (2017). At least the 49ers somehow got a fifth-round pick from the New York Jets at the 2017 trade deadline. Therefore, the worst pick was Williams. GM John Lynch’s instincts were to keep him off the team’s draft board. But Kyle Shanahan fell in love with the tape, and Lynch decided to trade up to select him in the fourth round.

Fifth round

Best: This is no contest. George Kittle (2017) set the NFL single-season record for most receiving yards from a tight end in just his second NFL season. He is a superstar.

[RELATED: Kittle, trainer are making his workout available to fans]

Sixth round

Best: Nose tackle D.J. Jones (2017) worked his way into a starting role toward the end of his second NFL season. He played well last season as the starter, and could be asked to do more as a pass-rusher this season as the team looks to compensate for Buckner.

Seventh round

Best: Offensive tackle Trent Brown (2016) started 28 games in three seasons for the 49ers before the club traded him to New England, where he won a Super Bowl. He then signed a huge contract with the Raiders in free agency last season and was named to a spot on the AFC Pro Bowl team.

How you can watch every 49ers, NFL game of last decade free online

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AP

How you can watch every 49ers, NFL game of last decade free online

During this unprecedented time amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it has been wonderful to see companies and organizations going the extra mile so as to hopefully make the situation easier on their customers. As we each (hopefully) do our part in committing to social distancing and staying home to "flatten the curve," the NFL has a treat to help pass the time.

Football fans are going to love it.

The NFL announced Wednesday that NFL Game Pass will be free for all fans through May 31. Typically, it costs $100 annually.

For those who don't know, NFL Game Pass is the league's online library of every game played from 2009-2019. The service offers multiple versions of each game, including full broadcasts, condensed games and even All-22 access for the true diehards. NFL Game Pass also includes previous seasons of "Hard Knocks" and more.

To take advantage of the offer, simply sign up at NFL.com/GamePass.

Once you create an account, however, you might be wondering where to start. With so many games to choose from, how do you decide where to begin?

Have no fear. That's why I'm here.

Below I've ranked the five games from the last decade that 49ers fans will want to prioritize, culminating with the most thrilling game the team has participated in since 2009. Some of them are obvious, while others you might have forgotten about. Given the current climate, I figured nobody needed any reminders of previous disappointment, so don't worry: San Francisco wins in the end every time.

Honorable Mention: Pick at the Stick

The final game at Candlestick Park just barely missed making the list, but it deserves some honorable mention for the fact that it will be remembered for arguably the most iconic 49ers play of the last decade. With San Francisco's playoff berth hanging in the balance and the Atlanta Falcons driving in 49ers' territory with a chance to take the lead, linebacker NaVorro Bowman intercepted a bobbled pass and raced into the end zone on the opposite side of the field amid pure and utter Candlestick chaos. Watch it again to feel that moment.

5. Offensive explosion vs. Buffalo Bills -- Oct. 7, 2012

We didn't know at the time that the 49ers were headed to the Super Bowl in 2012, but we received a pretty good indication in their Week 5 beatdown of the Buffalo Bills.

On the way to a thoroughly dominant 45-3 home win, San Francisco had its way with Buffalo, both on the ground and through the air. It remains the only game in NFL history in which a team both passed and ran for 300 yards. 

If you need a pick-me-up and just want to watch the 49ers run roughshod through an opponent, this is the one for you.

4. 2012 NFC Championship comeback

While the win was never in doubt in the previous selection, this one is on the opposite side of the spectrum. Six seconds into the second quarter of the 2012 NFC Championship game, the 49ers trailed the Falcons 17-0.

Gulp.

Don't worry. It gets better. San Francisco began its comeback, and limited Atlanta to just seven more points throughout the remainder of the contest. Frank Gore scored two second-half touchdowns to put the 49ers in front for the first time, and Bowman broke up fourth-down pass to seal the victory and send San Francisco to the Super Bowl. 

The first half is likely to give you plenty of anxiety, but the payoff is worth it in the end.

3. 2012 NFC Divisional Playoff game vs. Green Bay Packers

Ironically, the next game on our list is the one that, in reality, preceded the last one. Before the 49ers could complete the comeback against the Falcons, Colin Kaepernick introduced himself as the Packers' nightmare.

His first playoff start couldn't have begun worse, as Kaepernick threw a pick-six on the first possession. From there, though, he morphed into a problem that Green Bay had absolutely no answer for. In addition to completing 17-of-31 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns through the air, Kaepernick also rushed 16 times for 181 yards and another two scores. He individually accounted for more total yards than the Packers did as a team, and the 181 rushing yards remain an NFL record for a quarterback.

For a dominant individual display -- not to mention a glimpse at Kaepernick's coming-out-party -- look no further.

[RELATED: Ranking best players still available in NFL free agency]

2. Win by an inch

What a game. What a finish.

The 49ers and Seattle Seahawks have combined for plenty of memorable meetings over the past decade, but their most recent one might take the cake. With a victory, San Francisco would claim the No. 1 overall seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs. A loss, however, would mean dropping to the No. 5 seed in the NFC, no first-round bye and a wild-card round game on the road.

Thanks to rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw, the 49ers avoided that undesirable postseason path, but only by the smallest of margins. On fourth-and-goal from San Francisco's 6-yard-line in the final seconds, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson found tight end Jacob Hollister near the goal line. Hollister made the reception and thought he had the winning play, but Greenlaw stopped him cold, mere inches short of the end zone.

One hell of a play by a rookie, and one hell of a rivalry win.

1. 2011 NFC Divisional Playoff game vs. Saints

This game had everything, and appeared to be over multiple times. It wasn't, though. Not until Vernon Davis came down with the most important catch of his career.

The NFC was extremely top-heavy in 2011, with the Packers finishing 15-1 and both the 49ers and Saints going 13-3. New Orleans laid waste to the Detroit Lions in the wild-card round, setting up a heavyweight bout at Candlestick Park in the divisional round. What followed did not disappoint.

In what was a one-score game throughout the entire second half, the final 4:02 featured four separate touchdown drives, each of which changed the lead. The Saints got their big plays from Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham, but both times they were one-upped by plays that will forever be cemented in 49ers' lore. Alex Smith provided the first one with a 28-yard touchdown scamper down the left sideline, and then connected with Davis on a 14-yard TD pass with nine seconds remaining to finish off the wild victory.

It was the most exciting and fun game the 49ers played in -- and won -- over the last decade. We could all use another taste of that right now.

NaVorro Bowman picks 49ers to win Super Bowl 54, offers helpful advice

NaVorro Bowman picks 49ers to win Super Bowl 54, offers helpful advice

MIAMI, Fla. -- Four-time All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman has played in the big game, losing 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. 

Loyal to the team that drafted him in 2010, Bowman is picking the 49ers to win this time around. He did have some advice for the team that will ring true for head coach Kyle Shanahan: Don’t take your foot off the pedal.

“When they get up by points, they relax a lot,” Bowman told NBC Sports Bay Area on Friday. “I think in this game, it’s not going to be able to happen. Like, you got to stay on it the entire game.”

Bowman detailed what he felt would be the keys for the 49ers' defense to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. 

“I think the front seven has to touch Patrick very early,” Bowman said. “If they don’t, it’s going to be a long day. I think the DBs have to be on the same page communicating every single play so that nothing surprises them. 

“Speed kills, so once it gets on top of you it’s too late. That’s really the main thing honestly. If they’re not communicating every single play, it’s going to be a long day because no one on the defense is as fast as Tyreek Hill.” 

Bowman also noted that the 49ers cannot come out slow like his team did in New Orleans in 2013. The team also needs to be ready for the adversity that is inevitable in every game. 

“We faced it when the lights went out,” Bowman said. “I was like, ‘Damn, I thought we was prepared to play this game.’ We was down 20 some points. They can get on you fast.  I just hope these guys come out ready to play.” 

Looking back at that game, Bowman doesn’t know why the slow start happened but believes that the current 49er roster has an element that will keep them from being lackadaisical. 

“Honestly I think about it a lot, but I don’t really know exactly what I can point to to say this is why that happened,” Bowman said. “I think when you have a lot different personalities on a team it’s kind of hard to get them all focused on the same thing. I think it took maybe a half for us to wake up and get back on track. We fought back. It was a great game.

[RELATED: Bowman wishes he was still on 49ers]

“You got to be disciplined. It starts early in the year. build that trust where you know that person is doing what he’s supposed to be doing and you don’t have to hold their hand throughout the year or at big events like this.” 

From top to bottom in the 49ers organization, they talk about how special the locker room is. There is a closeness and support of each other that Bowman has taken notice of, even from the outside. 

“You got a good group now that you know that’s a little more safer than our group was,” Bowman said. “I think that’s why this team is back in the Super Bowl so early because they have a group of guys that care about one goal, and that’s what it takes to be great.”