As we count down the top ten 49ers NFL Draft busts since 1990, it's safe to say we're officially in rarified air with these last two players. And I actually bounced back and forth between the two of them as to who should be number one on this list. I was planning on going with J.J. Stokes, but an additional review made me move Stokes down to number two. I have my reasons to consider both for the top spot, so number two isn't some huge distinction at this point.
In 1995, the San Francisco 49ers had the 30th that year but decided to move up to the 10th pick to select UCLA wide receiver J.J. Stokes. The 49ers dealt away their first round pick (No. 30), along with their third (No. 94), one of two fourths (119), and their 1996 first round pick. When the 49ers made the move they compared it to the draft-day trade ten years prior that netted them Jerry Rice. In that deal they gave up their first, second, and third round picks to move up. However, when 49ers fans look at the Stokes deal, it's that future number one that stings. If I recall correctly, that pick ended up becoming Ray Lewis. I realize the pick might have been different for the 49ers in 1996, but it's still worth noting.
The thing about Stokes is he really didn't have a horrendous career like the rest of the folks in our top ten list. He finished with 342 career receptions for 4,293 yards and 30 touchdowns. He finished second or third in receptions and yards several times with the 49ers. It wasn't quite first round material, but there have been plenty of worse busts in the league and on the 49ers.
The reason I have him so high is the price the 49ers paid and the huge expectations. It's not Stokes' fault the 49ers placed such high expectations on him, but I'm willing to look past that in labeling him such a huge bust. A lot was expected of him and he never lived up to those expectations. Arguments could be made for placing him lower, or not even including him in the top ten. However, I continue to list him here because of that draft day trade. I just can't get past it.
49ers Top 10 NFL Draft Busts
2. J.J. Stokes, Wide Receiver, 1995 NFL Draft
3. Rashaun Woods, Wide Receiver, 2004 NFL Draft
4. Mike Rumph, Cornerback, 2002 NFL Draft
5. Kentwan Balmer, Defensive End - 2008 NFL Draft
6. Todd Kelly, Outside Linebacker - 1993 NFL Draft
7. Kwame Harris, Offensive Tackle - 2003 NFL Draft
8. Dexter Carter, Running Back - 1990 NFL Draft
9. Reggie McGrew, Defensive Tackle - 1999 NFL Draft
10. Dana Hall, Free Safety - 1992 NFL Draft
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