I honestly feel that a lot of what seems to be first round whiffs has to do with Nolan and how he allowed these players to be used.
1. Alex Smith: I'm not saying he could've been the real deal or that he's a bust. I'm just saying, Nolan didn't really put him in a position to succeed when he was here. Norv protected him, which made him look better than he was at the time. Nolan allowed him to be misused.
2. Vernon Davis: Have never seen a rookie talent so misused in my life. So what, the guy couldn't read zones in the defense. Norv was able to put him in plays that didn't require him to do this which were misdirection plays with Vernon coming across the field and not worry about where the defense was because the defense was being fooled. Again, Nolan ALLOWED his talents to not be used. Look at what teams do with rookie recievers who are very good after the catch such as Royal and Jackson: those coaches put them in a bunch of screen passes or hitch passes.
3. Manny Lawson: This guy turned out to be a stud against the pass and run but we only used him mainly on 3rd downs in "The Big Nickel". For a guy who's tall, skinny, and fast, he sure is damn stout against the run. Use his strengths and if you are going to use him to rush, try to set him up so that he's up against a FB and NOT a Tackle all the time!! Thanks, Nolan!!
There's so much more and a lot of it isn't McCloughan's fault. These guys are uber talented and other head coaches use the talents to the best of their abilities, especially first rounders. What did Nolan do? He would try to force them into his system completley disregarding what they have to offer.