Ranking (almost) all 40 of the 49ers’ draft picks in the John Lynch/Kyle Shanahan era

Apr 7, 2022 at 12:56 PM--


The 49ers are now in year six of the general manager John Lynch/head coach Kyle Shanahan era and to this point have added exactly 40 players to the franchise through the NFL Draft. That list will grow on April 29, which is when the 49ers are scheduled to be making their first selection of the 2022 NFL Draft in Round 2.

With the next draft class right around the corner, now's a good time to look back at five years of Lynch/Shanahan draft picks and assess the hits and misses. We've taken a shot at ranking 38 of those 40 draft picks based on their success with the 49ers, leaving out two players we feel still need more of a body of work at the NFL level before assigning a grade.

The order of rankings was based on how well each player performed since being selected and how strong of a value they provided given their draft spot, along with some consideration given to how strongly the player finished the 2021 season and how big of a role is expected from them in the future. Keep in mind this list is NOT solely a ranking of how good the players are or aren't but is instead an assessment of how good of a decision it was to draft each player at the spot they were selected.

There's a few bullseyes at the top of the list and some clear misses at the bottom, but past that, it's a bit hard to decide who should be ranked where. The 49ers have gotten at least some production from almost all of the players they've drafted in the Lynch/Shanahan era, but the variety of production combined with the expectations for each player can make it tricky to choose a ranking. Let's get started...

TBD: QB Trey Lance (Round 1, 2021)

TBD: OL Aaron Banks (Round 2, 2021)

Typically it would be a sizable disappointment for any team to get as little production from their top two picks as the 49ers did from Lance and Banks in 2021. But given the fact that these moves were made with one eye well into the future and that both of these players appear to be in line for a starting gig in 2022 and perhaps well beyond, we'll give them an incomplete grade for now. There's just not enough to go on yet with either player -- but it goes without saying that the stakes are monstrous for this franchise when it comes to Lance in particular. Given the impact he'll have no matter how he turns out, Lance could someday wind up being the best pick on this list, or the worst.

38. DL Solomon Thomas (Round 1, 2017)

Performance and production (Did he play enough? And how well did he play?): C-minus
Draft value (Did he provide value commensurate to his draft spot? If the 49ers traded up for him, was he worth it?): F-minus
Future with 49ers: None

It's hard not to be a fan of Solomon Thomas the person, just as it's hard not to want him to find long-term success in the NFL. But there's just no sugarcoating it -- he was a huge misfire for the 49ers as a No. 3 overall pick. There were understandable struggles he went through due to family tragedy, but he didn't prove to be a great fit on the field and missed most of his final season with the 49ers due to injury.

Is Thomas the worst player on this list? No. Far from it. Were other players less productive? Yes, very much so. But when considering the value of the draft position here and how many other options the 49ers could have pursued to help rebuild the team, the way things turned out with Thomas hurt them much more than when they missed the mark on some of their other drafted players. With Patrick Mahomes being one of the players on the board when Thomas was selected (more on that in a bit), this decision is one the 49ers probably wish they had back.

37. WR Jalen Hurd (Round 3, 2019)

Performance and production: F
Draft value: F
Future with 49ers: None

There was plenty to like about the thought of Hurd in the 49ers offense given his potential as a big (6-5) athletic runner and pass catcher. And who knows -- had he stayed healthy, maybe Hurd would have been able to do some of the same things Deebo Samuel did as a runner and receiver in 2021. But he couldn't, and in the end, the 49ers spent a third-round pick and a third-round contract on a player whose health issues kept him from appearing in a regular season game.

36. WR Dante Pettis (Round 2, 2018)

Performance and production: D
Draft value: F-minus
Future with 49ers: None

Things started off well for Pettis, who emerged over the second half of his rookie season to catch 27 passes for 467 yards and five touchdowns. He only caught 11 more passes for the 49ers from there, and eventually he fell out of favor and was out the door midway through the 2020 season. Pettis was reportedly out of shape to start his second NFL season, and over time he continued to fall down the totem pole until the 49ers felt he no longer had a place on the team. That's not good for a second round pick, particularly one the 49ers traded up to obtain.

35. LB Reuben Foster (Round 1, 2017)

Performance and production: C
Value for draft spot: F-minus
Future with 49ers: None

It sure seemed like a good idea at the time. And for a while, it was. The 49ers loved Foster in the 2017 draft -- so much so that he was one of their top three players on the board along with Thomas and first overall pick Myles Garrett. So when they saw the chance to trade up and grab Foster when he plummeted to the bottom of Round 1, they decided to be aggressive and make the move. Foster was an early hit for the 49ers, posting a strong rookie year and positioning himself as a potential cornerstone piece on defense. Then things went south for Foster in a hurry, courtesy of an ongoing string of off-field setbacks which eventually caused the 49ers to decide they'd had enough. The 49ers waived him in 2018 after 16 games played and 101 tackles, and since then injuries have stood in the way of him getting back onto an NFL playing field. Listing Foster this low comes back to the same reason for doing the same with Thomas, which is the 49ers could have gotten much more out of their draft position than they did. Foster's productive rookie season isn't nearly enough to counter what the 49ers lost by making this move.

34. RB Joe Williams (Round 4, 2017)

Performance and production: F
Draft value: F
Future with 49ers: None

Kyle Shanahan fell in love with Joe Williams, who at one point stepped away from football as a collegian before rebounding for a huge season at the University of Utah in 2016. Shanahan reportedly told Peter King of Sports Illustrated at the end of Day 2 of the 2017 draft that if the 49ers didn't get Williams the next day, he'd feel "sick." So the 49ers traded up to get him, overpaying in the process, and wound up getting very little in return. Williams spent his rookie season on injured reserve, then was let go before the start of the 2018 season.

33. TE Kaden Smith (Round 6, 2019)

Performance and production: F (with the 49ers, that is)
Draft value: F
Future with 49ers: None

Smith is one of two players on this list who wasn't so much a bad pick as he was a case of the 49ers parting ways with him too early. The 49ers waived Smith on September of 2019 and perhaps would have found a way to bring him back had he cleared waivers, but he was scooped up by the New York Giants and went on to catch 52 passes for 413 yard and three touchdowns in three seasons. Smith is in limbo at the moment after failing a physical in March while coming off a season-ending knee injury.

32. CB Tim Harris (Round 6, 2019)

Performance and production: D-minus
Draft value: D-minus
Future with 49ers: None

Harris was a player with a collegiate injury history who had measurables that made him worth a late-draft shot. He didn't pan out with the 49ers but is still looking for a spot in the NFL and is currently with the Buffalo Bills. Harris played in two games with the 49ers in 2020 and one with the Cleveland Browns in 2021.

31. LB Pita Taumoepenu (Round 6, 2017)

Performance and production: D
Draft value: D
Future with 49ers: None

Another late-round project, Taumoepenu was a player the 49ers liked for his pass-rushing potential. He spent some time on the practice squad over the 2017 and 2018 seasons and played in six total games for the 49ers before being let go in May of 2019. Taumoepenu has had stints with the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, and Denver Broncos since then.

30. RB Trey Sermon (Round 3, 2021)

Performance and production: D
Value for draft spot: D
Future with 49ers: Trending even

The former Ohio State standout Sermon was expected to have a productive rookie season with the 49ers after they traded up to grab him in Round 3 of the 2021 draft. But he was passed in the pecking order by rookie Elijah Mitchell and finished his rookie season with 167 yards and one touchdown. It'll be interesting to see where things go from here. Mitchell was good enough as a rookie to assume that he won't be passed up by Sermon anytime soon, so he'll likely be competing with Jeff Wilson and JaMycal Hasty for carries in 2022. Sermon certainly has the ability to make a difference in the NFL, but where he is right now isn't exactly where he was expected to be when the 49ers made him a Round 3 pick.

29. DT Jullian Taylor (Round 7, 2018)

Performance and production: C-minus
Value for draft spot: C-minus
Future with 49ers: None

Taylor was the type of player teams should be taking a chance on in Round 7. He was a raw prospect who didn't play much in college at Temple due to injury but showed some quality potential when he did. He flashed that potential at times during his 12 games over two seasons with the 49ers but tore an ACL in December 2019 and was waived with a failed physical designation in November of 2020. He spent some time with the Tennessee Titans in 2021 but hasn't been with an NFL team since.

28. OL Colton McKivitz (Round 5, 2020)

Performance and production: C-minus
Value for draft spot: C
Future with 49ers: Trending slightly upward

McKivitz has had an interesting stint with the 49ers to this point. He played in 14 games with three starts as a rookie, then spent much of the 2021 season on the practice squad and didn't appear in a game until Week 18 when he was called upon to start at left tackle in place of injured All-Pro Trent Williams against the Rams in a game the 49ers had to win in order to make the playoffs. McKivitz held his own in the 49ers' memorable 27-24 overtime victory and now heads into the 2022 season expected to compete for at least a depth spot.

27. CB Deommodore Lenoir (Round 5, 2021)

Performance and production: C-minus
Value for draft spot: C-minus
Future with 49ers: Trending even, could move in either direction over the next couple months

Could Lenoir have to fight for a roster spot this season? It's possible, depending on who the 49ers add in the 2022 draft. Lenoir played a big role early in his rookie season, seeing significant snaps on defense over his first three games while helping to fill in for injured veteran Emmanuel Moseley. But his playing time fell off from there as he saw just 46 total snaps on defense the rest of the way. Lenoir could wind up being a key contender for the nickel spot left open by the departure of K'Waun Williams, or he could prove to be an odd man out if the 49ers add corner help in the draft.

26. S Adrian Colbert (Round 7, 2017)

Performance and production: C-minus
Value for draft spot: C
Future with 49ers: None

It seemed for a time like the 49ers struck gold with Colbert, who started seven of 14 games as a rookie and had a starting spot to himself heading into his second season. But Colbert struggled in 2018 before seeing his season come to an end after seven games due to a high ankle sprain. Colbert never regained his status with the 49ers and was let go at the start of the 2019 season. He's bounced around the league since then, spending time with the Seahawks, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots, Chiefs, Giants, and Browns.

25. OL Jaylon Moore (Round 5, 2021)

Performance and production: C
Value for draft spot: C
Future with 49ers: Trending upward

It might be more fair to put the same "TBD" label on Moore that was given to Lance and Banks, but there's just enough of a sample size to give him a ranking. Moore earned some valuable experience as a rookie with three starts in seven games and 145 snaps on offense and now could be in line to take over a starting spot at guard. If the 49ers wind up with a long-term starter in Moore, this will obviously turn out to be a strong value pick and he'll move way up this list.

24. DB D.J. Reed (Round 5, 2018)

Performance and production: C-minus (for the 49ers)
Value for draft spot: C-minus
Future with 49ers: None

Put this one on the list of decisions the 49ers wish they could do over. Reed had his moments on defense and on special teams in two seasons with the 49ers, totaling 54 tackles and two forced fumbles in 31 games while also averaging 30.2 yards per kick return in 2018. But the 49ers exposed Reed to waivers in August of 2020 after he suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the offseason, and the Seahawks promptly scooped him up. Shanahan expressed regret at that decision later in 2020, and Reed went on to become good enough to land a three-year, $33 million free agent deal from the New York Jets last month. Like Kaden Smith, Reed's case was one of being a good draft decision that turned into a not-so-good roster decision down the line. He'd certainly be higher on this list if he had played with the 49ers for more than two seasons and continued to develop into the player he is now.

23. DT Kentavius Street (Round 4, 2018)

Performance and production: C
Value for draft spot: C
Future with 49ers: None

Street tore an ACL during his Pro Day in 2018, but the 49ers, who had Street rated higher than Round 4, took a chance anyway. They didn't strike gold with that decision, but it wasn't exactly a failure either. Street went on to become a solid rotational player, totaling 42 tackles and three sacks in three seasons before signing with the New Orleans Saints in March.

22. QB C.J. Beathard (Round 3, 2017)

Performance and production: D-plus
Value for draft spot: C
Future with 49ers: None

As mentioned above, the 49ers could have had Patrick Mahomes instead of Solomon Thomas in 2017 if they wanted him. But, based on a behind-the-scenes account of the 49ers' 2017 draft from Peter King, it's safe to assume the 49ers didn't want Mahomes, because King reported Shanahan as saying the only quarterback he wanted from the 2017 draft was Beathard.

That's not exactly a story that inspires confidence in Shanahan's eye for quarterbacks. But the 49ers did get a fair amount of playing time out of Beathard before parting ways with him after four seasons, even if it wasn't always that good. Beathard undoubtedly proved to be tough-as-nails, which is something Shanahan liked about him coming into the 2017 draft. Beathard also had an unforgettable moment in 2020 when he led the 49ers to a win over the Cardinals one year after the tragic death of his brother. But he won just two of his 12 starts with the 49ers, which simply wasn't enough. Beathard threw for 3,469 yards, 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his four seasons with the 49ers before signing with the Jaguars in 2021.

21. CB Ahkello Witherspoon (Round 3, 2017)

Performance and production: C-minus
Value for draft spot: C
Future with 49ers: None

Witherspoon entered the NFL as a tall, long cornerback with plenty of potential, but that potential only showed up on occasion during his three seasons with the 49ers. After emerging as a possible starter of the future as a rookie, Witherspoon went through some rough stretches on the field with the 49ers while also dealing with his share of injuries. He played in 47 games (33 starts) with the 49ers and totaled 117 tackles and four interceptions before signing with the Seahawks in 2021. The Seahawks traded Witherspoon to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he seems to have found a home after re-signing with them on a two-year deal in March. Deciding where to rank Witherspoon was tricky -- the 49ers did get a good amount of production from this pick, but his inconsistency helped lead to him not having a long-term future with the team past his rookie contract.

20. TE Charlie Woerner (Round 6, 2020)

Performance and production: C
Value for draft spot: C-plus
Future with 49ers: Trending upward

Woerner came to the 49ers as a late-round project who caught 34 passes for 376 yards and one touchdown in four seasons at the University of Georgia. He's turned out to be the solid blocker the 49ers hoped they were getting and has made strides as a pass catcher as well. He has eight catches for 88 yards in 31 games and could see his role continue to increase in the future.

19. DT Javon Kinlaw (Round 1, 2020)

Performance and production: C-minus
Value for draft spot: D, for now
Future with 49ers: Trending slightly upward

Kinlaw is another tricky player to rank. Injuries have limited him to 18 games over his first two seasons, which isn't good enough for a player drafted 14th overall. The 49ers need more from him, starting now. And he could certainly use a bounce-back year if he wants to ensure he'll be in the discussion for a contract extension next offseason. At the same time, if he puts together the type of season the 49ers were expecting him to produce when they drafted him, he could cement himself as a big part of the team's future. The middle of this list feels right for Kinlaw at the moment, but fortunately he's excited about where he currently is health-wise after missing most of 2021, and the 49ers like what they've seen from him this offseason as well. Perhaps he's trending in the right direction.

18. WR Trent Taylor (Round 5, 2017)

Performance and production: C
Value for draft spot: C
Future with 49ers: None

Taylor emerged early in his career as a possible long-term answer for the 49ers in the slot and was looking like a fifth-round steal, but injuries eventually stood in the way. Taylor caught 43 passes for 430 yards as a rookie, then saw his production drop the following year (26 passes, 215 yards, one touchdown) as he battled a back injury. Taylor missed all of 2019 due to foot problems, then caught 10 passes for 86 yards in 2020 before parting ways with the 49ers in 2021. He eventually landed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

17. OT Justin Skule (Round 6, 2019)

Performance and production: C
Value for draft spot: C-plus
Future with 49ers: Trending even

It's hard to complain too much with the results here given how late Skule was drafted. He was called upon quite a bit over his first two seasons, notching 12 starts in 31 games played, and proved to be a serviceable player along the way. Skule was expected to be the swing tackle in 2021 before suffering a torn ACL during offseason workouts and figures to be in the mix for that spot once again in 2022. How he rebounds in 2022 could determine how much of a role he has in the long-term for the 49ers.

16. S Talanoa Hufanga (Round 5, 2021)

Performance and production: C-plus
Value for draft spot: B-minus
Future with 49ers: Trending upward

The highly affable Hufanga has a chance to cement himself as a starter of the present and future at strong safety this season, assuming the 49ers don't decide to bring back Jaquiski Tartt one more time. He'll have to win the job against possibly Tarvarius Moore, free agent signing George Odum, and anyone else the 49ers may decide to bring in, but if he proves he's the answer, this will prove to be a high-value pick for the 49ers. Even if he doesn't win the starting spot, Hufanga has shown he can bring value as a backup and on special teams.

15. CB Ambry Thomas (Round 3, 2021)

Performance and production: C-plus
Value for draft spot: C
Future with 49ers: Trending upward

Thomas's rookie year got off to a very slow start -- slow enough that some were even wondering if the 49ers reached too far when they selected him in Round 3. But after being a non-factor for much of the first half of the season, Thomas unexpectedly emerged as a starter down the stretch, even making the game-clinching interception in Week 18 that helped send the 49ers to the postseason. Will he continue his upward trend and become a long-term fixture in the secondary? He could wind up combining with Emmanuel Moseley and free agent addition Charvarius Ward to make a promising trio this season. But if the 49ers bring in more competition at the position, Thomas could also find a battle on his hands for that third cornerback spot.

14. S Tarvarius Moore (Round 3, 2018)

Performance and production: C
Value for draft spot: C-plus
Future with 49ers: Trending even

It's been an up-and-down NFL career so far for Tarvarius Moore, with the lowest point coming in 2021 when he suffered a torn Achilles in offseason workouts that ended his season. But he's had enough good moments (most notably a good showing in Super Bowl LIV) to still feel he may have a bright future ahead. Moore was a highly athletic, high-potential project who came on late in his college career in Southern Miss and took some time to adjust to the NFL after the 49ers shifted him from safety to cornerback as a rookie. He moved back to safety in his second season and should be a noticeable factor there in 2022 if he can bounce back from his injury. This will be an important season for Moore, but he's still just 25 years old with plenty of football ahead of him.

13. S/LB Marcell Harris (Round 6, 2018)

Performance and production: C
Value for draft spot: B-plus
Future with 49ers: Likely none

The 49ers took a chance on Harris in 2018 when he was coming off a torn Achilles. He went on to play in 52 games in four seasons with 20 starts -- 13 at safety over the first three years of his career and seven at linebacker in 2021. He totaled 155 tackles, one sack and five forced fumbles. We're talking about Harris in the past tense here because it feels like his days with the 49ers might be over, even though he currently stands unsigned as a free agent. If that proves to be the case, he'll be remembered as a worthwhile late-round pick who had some inconsistencies and never proved to be a long-term answer but provided some depth and an occasional big play.

12. WR Richie James (Round 7, 2020)

Performance and production: C-plus
Value for draft spot: B-plus
Future with 49ers: None

One can't ask for too much from seventh-round picks, so it's hard not to be satisfied with the value the 49ers got from James. James played three seasons with the 49ers before missing the 2021 season due to injury and caught 38 passes for 689 yards and three touchdowns while returning 51 punts for 373 yards and 47 picks for 1,081 yards and one touchdown. Nothing earth-shattering there, but that's at least some notable production from a seventh-round pick. James is now with the New York Giants after signing a free agent deal in March.

11. WR Jauan Jennings (Round 7, 2020)

Performance and production: B
Value for draft spot: B
Future with 49ers: Trending upward

This feels a little high for Jennings, but we're keeping the future in mind here. Jennings doesn't have the overall production of many of the players below him, but the upward trend he showed towards the end of the 2021 season suggests that his future is brighter than it was a year ago. Jennings emerged from a 2020 season of practice squad and injury to become a factor in 2021, catching 24 passes for 282 yards and five touchdowns while making some vital plays down the stretch. Jennings heads into the 2022 season in position to be the team's No. 3 receiver, but the 49ers could add to that position in the weeks ahead, so he may find some competition coming his way.

10. P Mitch Wishnowsky (Round 4, 2019)

Performance and production: B-minus
Value for draft spot: C-minus
Future with 49ers: Trending even

The 49ers' decision to spend a fourth-round pick on a 27-year-old punter was one that was met at the time with plenty of criticism. It's not a move a team would typically make, but the 49ers felt they had a high-end talent in Wishnowsky who was worth the investment. Were they right? Well, they could have had Patriots punter and 2020 All-Pro Jake Bailey one round later if they wanted. Or later than that they could have had one of three punters -- A.J. Cole (Raiders), Jamie Gilliam (Browns), or Jack Fox (Lions) -- who wound up being signed as undrafted free agents. And there were a handful of other players selected after Wishnowsky who would have been helpful as well (Hunter Renfrow is one who stands out). At the same time, Wishnowsky hasn't exactly been a bust either, and maybe the 49ers will choose to keep him around for years to come. Could have gone worse.

9. OL Mike McGlinchey (Round 1, 2018)

Performance and production: C-plus
Value for draft spot: C-plus
Future with 49ers: Trending even

McGlinchey was selected with the intent of him becoming a long-term answer at either right tackle or left tackle, but his future is anything but etched in stone at the moment. He's earned some praise for his run blocking during his career -- his pass blocking, not as much. McGlinchey was coming off a 2020 season he described as inconsistent before seeing his 2021 season come to an early end after tearing his quadriceps in November. He's now in the final year of his rookie contract, and it's possible he might need a strong rebound season to secure a long term deal. Things could certainly have turned out much worse with this pick, but for players selected ninth overall like McGlinchey, the general expectation is for things to turn out better than they have to this point.

8. LB Dre Greenlaw (Round 5, 2019)

Performance and production: B
Value for draft spot: A-minus
Future with 49ers: Trending even

It'll be interesting to see what the 49ers do in the long-term with Greenlaw, who is in the final year of his contract and is coming off an injury-plagued season that saw the emergence of Azeez Al-Shaair in his absence. Regardless of what direction they choose, Greenlaw can certainly be considered a late-round find for the 49ers. He started 22 of 29 games played in his first two seasons and has a three-year total of 199 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and two sacks. And oh yeah, there was that one fourth-down stop that he'll be remembered for forever. Whether it's in the Bay Area or elsewhere, Greenlaw still may have his best playing days ahead of him.

7. WR Brandon Aiyuk (Round 1, 2020)

Performance and production: B
Value for draft spot: B
Future with 49ers: Trending upward

Aside from the unexpected and somewhat strange "in-the-doghouse"-esque start he had to the 2021 season, Aiyuk has shown plenty of promise in his two years in the NFL. His slow beginning to the 2021 season initially kept him from being the impact player some thought he'd be when he caught 60 passes for 748 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, but he still finished with 56 catches for 826 yards and five more touchdowns. Year three figures to be a big one for Aiyuk, assuming he indeed learned the lessons the 49ers wanted him to learn over the first half of the 2021 season and can pick up where he left off in the second half.

6. RB Elijah Mitchell (Round 6, 2021)

Performance and production: A
Value for draft spot: A
Future with 49ers: Trending upward

One can't ask for much more from a late Day 3 pick than what Mitchell delivered in 2021. Mitchell stepped in for injured starter Raheem Mostert and set a franchise single-season rushing mark for a rookie with 963 yards and five touchdowns. He'll head into 2022 as the clear starter at running back and will aim to move past the 1,000 yard mark while also bringing more to his game in terms of pass-catching. Mitchell adds to the track record the 49ers and running backs coach Bobby Turner have of finding diamonds in the rough at the position and seems set to be the go-to guy in the backfield for at least the near future.

5. DT D.J. Jones (Round 6, 2017)

Performance and production: A-minus
Value for draft spot: A
Future with 49ers: None

The 49ers got great value from Jones, who was a solid contributor for five seasons before cashing in on a free agent deal with the Denver Broncos in March. He was strong in 2021 in particular, totaling 56 tackles and two sacks while stepping up big in the absence of Kinlaw. The 49ers decided not to pay Jones the type of money he got from the Broncos (three years, $30 million), but it sure would have been nice if they had found a way to keep him around. It wouldn't be a surprise if Jones's presence was missed on the defensive line next season.

4. LB Fred Warner (Round 3, 2018)

Performance and production: A
Value for draft spot: A-plus
Future with 49ers: Trending even

Warner felt like a great pick at the time in 2018, and he's turned out to be even better than expected. Warner cemented his status as one of the NFL's best young linebackers in 2020 by putting together a performance that earned him first-team All-Pro honors and cashed in as a result with a five-year, $95 million extension before the start of the 2021 season. Warner didn't quite have the same type of performance in 2021, which he acknowledged, but there's little doubt he'll come into 2022 motivated to do better. And that's one of the reasons why he's the type of player NFL teams are willing to pay big money -- he's got the talent to be great, and he's got the mindset he needs to get him there. There's only one other pick in the Lynch/Shanahan era that delivered more bang for the buck than Warner, and that's the guy rated at No. 1.

3. DE Nick Bosa (Round 1, 2019)

Performance and production: A
Value for draft spot: A
Future with 49ers: Trending upward

Bosa has been the best first-round pick of the Lynch/Shanahan era by a wide margin, and that's with one season almost completely wiped out due to injury. Bosa won the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2019, then after tearing his ACL in 2020, he rebounded in 2021 to be even better than he was as a rookie. The expectations of his draft spot don't put him in the same bargain category as the other players joining him in the top four, but Bosa has proven to be what any team would want and need from a No. 2 overall pick -- a high-end, yearly All-Pro caliber talent who will be a franchise cornerstone at a position of high importance for years to come. As long as he stays healthy, Bosa seems to be well on his way to becoming one of the better defensive linemen to wear a 49ers uniform.

2. WR Deebo Samuel (Round 2, 2019)

Performance and production: A
Value for draft spot: A-plus
Future with 49ers: Trending upward

Samuel and the 49ers were a match made in heaven from day one. The 49ers seemed to zero in on Samuel early in the pre-draft process when they coached him at the Senior Bowl, and when the time came, they made him their pick in Round 2, to no surprise. Samuel has since performed beyond expectations, largely due to his incredible 2021 season that now has him set up to become one of the highest-paid receivers in the league. His new role as a "wide back" saw him rush for 365 yards and eight touchdowns to go with his 77 receptions for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns and solidified him as one of the NFL's most unique and dangerous offensive weapons. Samuel tends to get banged up from time to time, but, like Bosa, if he can avoid serious injury, he could go down as an all-time 49ers great.

1. TE George Kittle (Round 5, 2017)

Performance and production: A-plus
Value for draft spot: A-plus
Future with 49ers: Trending even

There's competition for the top spot, especially considering the time Kittle's missed in recent seasons due to injury. But in terms of production combined with the late-round value, it's tough to top Kittle for number one. No one thought the 49ers were drafting a player in Kittle who would become arguably the league's most talented overall tight end, but that's exactly what they wound up getting. Kittle has three Pro Bowl selections in five seasons with 335 catches for 4,489 yards and 20 touchdowns. It sometimes feels like he should get targeted even more than he does, but there's a lot of targetable talent to go around on the 49ers offense, and Kittle seems to be just as content with clobbering opponents as a blocker as he does with getting the ball thrown in his direction.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.



3 Comments

  • BigAl
    You really need to be strong in player evaluations to do a list like this. My opinion is you value the 6th and 7th rounds too much, they are especially a crapshoot. While you seem to undervalue the 3rd round. I dont understand how Bosa and Deebo dont get A s for production. Injuries caused them to miss time but when they play they are both stars and A production. CJ Beathard as a C? Thats insane. JGs production is a C, even C- considering all the yards he leaves on the field. CJ is a F across the board, clearly. And Wisnewski? D to D-. He sadly didnt deserve to be drafted. Maybe it seems im nitpicking but I think my views are just alot sharper. Trent Taylor? He was borderline trash could only barely get open from the slot...But the bay area writers acted like him and Pettis were great, it was strange. Ill tell you whose good and who made more big catches than Taylor ever has as a pro and thats Jauan Jennings. You said you feel funny putting up that high? I say he got star potential and is already a A from his draft spot and catches in big moments in big games. Performance in big games means everything, not putting up yards when your 2-12 and losing by 25.
    Apr 7, 2022 at 7:50 PM
    3
  • Mood Indigo
    I feel stupid for having scrolled through this list :(
    Apr 7, 2022 at 4:44 PM
    6
  • jesse
    wishnowsky top ten. what are you smoking???????
    Apr 7, 2022 at 1:57 PM
    3

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More San Francisco 49ers News



One area Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers must improve

By Marc Adams
Jun 22

Two massive games. Two double-digit 4th quarter leads. Two heart-breaking losses. You can stop right there and fans of the San Francisco 49ers know exactly what you're talking about. Painfully, the franchise that once referred to itself as "Camelot," and became the first NFL team to win five Super Bowls, has experienced some difficult losses. There were three consecutive heartbreaking losses in the Jim Harbaugh days. And now Kyle Shanahan's 49ers have lost two big games, Super Bowl LIV in February 2020, and the NFC Championship Game earlier this year. And we're not even discussing the dark years when the team struggled under the likes of Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan, Jim Tomsula, and Chip Kelly. Those names make me want to throw up. Whether it's that



Sam Acho picks 49ers' Trey Lance as 2nd-year QB to make biggest jump in 2022

By David Bonilla
Jun 28

Last week, ESPN analyst Rob Ninkovich looked at the 2021 rookie quarterback class and stated he expects Trey Lance to make the "biggest jump" in Year 2. Another ESPN analyst, Sam Acho, agrees with that prediction. Why is Lance the best second-year quarterback, in Acho's opinion? It's because of the weapons around him. The 22-year-old quarterback will have wide receiver Deebo Samuel (assuming the offseason rift can be mended) and tight end George Kittle at his disposal. "Yes, there was a reason Zach Wilson was the second pick overall last year," Acho said. "There's a reason Trey Lance was third, right? Because he's that good as well." More critical for



PFF's 2020 re-draft has 49ers passing on Javon Kinlaw for cornerback help

By David Bonilla
Jun 22

Fans like to play "What If," wondering what things might be like had their favorite team opted for a different choice at a pivotal moment. Fans aren't the only ones, though. Take former San Francisco 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, for instance. His missed interception of a Matthew Stafford pass intended for receiver Van Jefferson in the NFC title game might have sent the Niners back to the Super Bowl for the second time in three years. "That's a play I should make in my sleep, and I didn't make it," Tartt said after the game. "... I know that was a big play in the game, a big opportunity for me and for the team, and as a player, I just feel like I let my brothers down." Had Tartt made the play, maybe the 49ers win their sixth



49ers' Brandon Aiyuk among PFF's Year 3 breakout candidates

By David Bonilla
Jun 21

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was a hot pick last year as a candidate primed to have a breakout season. Instead, it was third-year wideout Deebo Samuel who emerged as one of the best in the game. Aiyuk was slow out of the gate, hauling in just one pass for six yards in the Niners' first two games. He played just 51 percent of the offensive snaps through Week 2. Aiyuk finished the season strong, playing at least 90 percent of the offensive snaps in each game starting in Week 9. He amassed 43 receptions for 685 yards and four touchdowns during that span. Can Aiyuk have a Samuel-like breakout season in his third year—minus the running back snaps. One thousand, four hundred five of Samuel's 1,770 all-purpose yards came as a receiver. In 2021,


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