This batch of players is an interesting collection for sure. We've got a future Hall of Famer, a guy who wanted to be the best player in the league at his position and fell short. There's also a ballet dancer, a guy who was one of the biggest busts in Niner history, and a player who uses his Super Bowl ring to get people to sing up for home loans.
I'm only using three years this time (I normally try to do five years) because the 49ers had five first round draft picks in those years. We had two in 1994, two in 1993 and one in 1992.
1994--Bryant Young, DT, Notre Dame
6'3", 305 lbs
1994--William Floyd, RB Florida State
6'1, 242 lbs
1993--Dana Stubblefield DT, Kansas
1993--Todd Kelly DE, Tennessee
6'2", 259 lbs
1992--Dana Hall, DB Washington
6'3", 211 lbs
Carmen Policy became the chief executive of the 49ers in 1991 and held the power of all drafts. I think it's fairly obvious that he wasn't quite sure of himself by looking at 1992 and 1993 first round selections. It's also pretty clear that defense was a huge priority for the 49ers at this time, as well it should be since the 49ers defense of the early 90s was porous indeed. (Luckily we had perhaps the best offense in the league to make up for it).
Bryant Young (1994)
Bryant Young is one of my all-time favorite 49ers. He was drafted out of Notre Dame 7th overall in 1994, which is pretty good considering that the 49ers 1993 record was 10-6 and an appearance in the NFC championship game where we were soundly beaten by the Cowboys. Carmen Policy was active on draft day, trading the 1995 second and third round picks to move up to grab Bryant. I think Bryant Young was instrumental in helping the 49ers get over the hump and to the 1995 Super Bowl.
Fans like to criticize teams for "mortgaging their future", and at first blush that's what the 49ers did here. However Young became a 14 year starter for the team, appearing in four Pro-Bowls and recording 89.5 sacks and over 600 tackles during his career. He's a member of the Niners Nation all-time team (and deservedly so). In my opinion he's a player worthy of the Hall of Fame. He retired in 2007, so he won't be eligible until 2012 but I would not be surprised to see him make it on the first ballot.
What makes his story even more incredible is that he suffered a brutal broken leg at the end of the 1998 season.
"Imagine yourself falling off a cliff into an abyss and gasping for air," Young says of the pain. "You're trying desperately to grab onto something, but you're plummeting too fast and can't get a grip."
On the way to the hospital Young was in so much pain that Eddie DeBartolo had to force the ambulance driver to pull over to administer morphine immediately.
At the outset of the 25-mile trip to Stanford Hospital, paramedics struggled to place an intravenous needle in Young's arm. Young was shaking, crying and clinging to consciousness, and DeBartolo, who had used scissors to cut away Young's sweat-soaked jersey and shoulder pads, finally snapped: "Pull this f--- ambulance over and get the W started!" The driver promptly braked to the shoulder of U.S. 101. A minute or so later Young felt a rush of morphine and experienced a more subtle form of discomfort: For the first time in his five-year career, he began to comprehend how much he meant to the people around him.
Here are some great links from the Sports Illustrated Vault
Well Healed SI takes a look at Young after healing from his broken leg
First Ballot HOFer? Dr Z of SI thinks so
William Floyd, RB
The 1994 draft was a pretty good one for the 49ers. We grabbed a HOFer with the first pick and the second pick we grabbed one of the best FBs (as voted on by the Niners Nation faithful) the team has ever had. Floyd was picked 28th overall. There were two RBs picked ahead of him--Marshall Faulk at #2 overall and some guy named Greg Hill at 25. The 1994 draft was a horrible one for running backs, as the only ones to have any kind of success were Marshall Faulk (who will be a first ballot HOFer), William Floyd (who didn't have a great career as a runner but was an excellent FB), and Dorsey Levens who wasn't picked until the 5th round (149th overall).
William Floyd wanted to be remembered as the best FB to play the game;
But Floyd is serious about his game. "I've watched great big backs like Earl Campbell, Larry Csonka and Franco Harris," he says, "and I like to take a little something from them into my game. Twenty years from now, I want kids to be saying, 'William Floyd was the best fullback ever.' "
Sadly he most likely won't go down in history as the best FB ever, but he'll be remembered as a very good one that had his career hampered by injuries. In 1996 he completely dislocated his right knee, an injury that could've finished his career then and there. He still managed to come back from that and play for another 4 years though he would never be as effective. He would play his last two seasons for the Carolina Panthers.
He's currently does the color commentary for the radio broadcasts of Florida State's football games.
Dana Stubblefield (1993)
Stubblefield was picked 26th overall in the 1993 draft. Stubblefield would have a great career for the 49ers, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He would have an 11 year career that included four trips to the Pro Bowl. He actually had two stints with the 49ers, the first from 1993 to 1997, and the second from 2001-2002, but his play was erratic. For example, in 1997 he had 15 sacks, where in 1996 he had only 1 sack. He would finish his career in 2003 with the Oakland Raiders.
His life since then has not been so great. His career ended in 2003 after he was suspended for steroid use. He tested positive for a designer drug known as "the clear" that was manufactured by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, also known as BALCO. In 2003 he testified to a grand jury that he had never taken the designer drug "the clear" (TGH), or the blood-boosting drug EPO, and that he hadn't received any items from BALCO.
In 2008 he admitted to lying to federal prosecutors as part of a plea deal to testify against BALCO. He would be the first NFL player to be charged in that five year investigation. He was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $5,000.
In November of 2009 he was hit with a five-year restraining order by his ex-fiancee. The fall-out from that, plus the BALCO case led to him resigning his job as defensive line coach for San Jose's Valley Christian High School, which is what he was doing from basically the time he retired from football.
History of the BALCO case
Stubblefield rehearses for a performance of the Nutcracker.
Todd Kelly (1993)
It's a good thing the Niners had a hit with Stubblefield because if they had relied on Todd Kelly to do the job for them we'd still be waiting. Kelly was picked 27th overall out of the University of Tennessee. He had a great college career, being named All-SEC in 1992 and being named a captain of the team. Sadly his NFL career was not nearly so illustrious (showcasing the difficulties in moving guys from college DE to OLB).
He was drafted to take the place of Charles Haley as a pass-rushing specialist and OLB, and failed miserably, notching a grand total of 5.5 sacks in two years. The 49ers cut him following the 1994 season. He spent 1995 and 1996 with the Bengals where he managed a grand total of 1 sack. He was cut mid-way through the 1996 season and picked up by the Falcons but he didn't record any stats with them and was never picked up again by any team.
The guy we passed on to take Kelly? Michael Strahan who would be picked 13 slots later.
Kelly currently works with the University of Tennessee on it's Volunteer Athletic Scholarship Fund association.
Dana Hall (1992)
Hall was drafted 18th overall from the University of Washington. The 49ers drafted him to be the heir apparent to Ronnie Lott (who had left the 49er in 1990). Sadly Hall fell on his face big time. He would spend all of three seasons with the 49ers, recording just one sack and four interceptions. We cut him after the 1994 season (so he at least got a Super Bowl ring). Hall would then have the misfortune of landing with a Browns team that was leaving Cleveland for Baltimore. When the Browns dissolved Hall would be picked up by the expansion Jaguars for the final two years of his career.
His rookie contract was for three years, $2.7 million, but by the end of his time with the 49ers he was relegated to special teams only.
There's a very good silver lining from this pick though. Hall would be injured early in the 1993 season, forcing a switch up in defense. Merton Hanks would be moved from CB to safety and would excel with three interceptions (one for a TD) in 1993 and seven interceptions in 1994. Without the pick of Hall and his subsequent injury we may never have known what Hanks was capable of.
When he left football Hall opened a small dry cleaning business in Jacksonville. He expanded that and sold it for a nice profit and moved back to California. In 2001 he was at a photo exhibit and met a head hunter for Washington Mutual who talked him into going into the mortgage business. He's been in that line of work ever since, and currently works for Countrywide Home Loans:
Hall said the transition to business was very difficult."You're never going to be in the sports setting in corporate America," he said, adding, "If I miss anything, it's the camaraderie with those guys, not necessarily playing the game.I'm over that."
Fluff piece on Hall's work with Countrywide
Hall was looking for a fresh start in Jacksonville