The last two weeks were a trip down a less than enjoyable memory lane as we discussed the 49ers top ten busts since 1990. Not everybody agreed with the final list, but most everybody agreed they were pretty poor draft picks. For those picks throughout the '90s, the team suffered from many of those poor picks when the wheels fell off the franchise in early part of the '00s.
However, now that we've made it through the bad, it's time to move on to the good. This week and next week we're going to run down the 49ers top ten draft successes since 1990. Some of them will be obvious, while some of them would qualify as slightly subjective personal preferences on my part. Given that I'm the one putting this list together and we're not doing a community vote (for now), my personal quirks will likely shine through.
In fact, our No. 10 draft success goes right to my own personal preference. In 2004, the 49ers used their first of two 6th round picks to select punter Andy Lee out of Pittsburgh. I'm sure some of you (maybe even a lot of you) will disagree with the idea of a punter being on any kind of draft success chart. That's one reason I went with Lee as number ten. I think he deserves recognition on this list, but I also recognize that I cannot justify a much higher spot.
While punters often can be a dime a dozen, I think Andy Lee is an exception. Whenever you can draft a player who will go down as the best player at that position in franchise history, that has to be considered a successful draft pick. It's easy to point to total yards as an indicator of his greatness, but we all know he's played on some awful 49ers teams that had horrific offenses. It's only fitting that he's booted so many punts for so many yards.
However, even with the franchise record for punts and punt yards, Lee is also the leader in yards per punt (based on at least 20 career punts). That number goes to show how big a leg Lee has had the last few years. He's been selected to multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams. Although we joke about it during game threads, you could argue he's on a short list for most valuable 49ers player at times during his seven year career.
This inclusion does reflect some bias on my part, but I also think there are legitimate reasons to include him on this list. As I said above, when you draft a player at any position and he becomes the greatest player in franchise history at that position, that would seem to define "draft success."
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