To start with a disclaimer, this post is not suggesting that Trent Baalke is not a total badass with the magic touch when it comes to that. In fact, he is quite the opposite of ... not being that. Nor is this post suggesting that the San Francisco 49ers should do anything other than use the No. 30 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
No, what this post is setting out to accomplish is point out just how difficult it can be to draft at that point. In many ways, it's just like trying to put together your mock draft. You can have a good idea who the best ten players in the nation are, and then have a pretty good idea of how your top ten would look. When you get toward the back-end of that mock though, the names come a little bit slower and you have to read a little more about what other people think before you make your decision.
It's not quite a coin flip, but it's just as unforgiving as one when you get to the back-end of the first. While the vision of Baalke drafting a stud at No. 30 in less than a month, only to have his high-dollar hopes vanquished at the hands of his partner in crime, Paraag Marathe is quite easy to visualize, it's not guaranteed. After the jump, we'll take a look at some of the colossal failures the 49ers have had in the late first-round.
2008 brought us Kentwan Balmer, defensive tackle out of North Carolina with the No. 29 pick in the first round. I'll be honest, 2008 was the year I really got back into religiously following the 49ers, complete with rosterbation, so I wasn't too knowledgeable on Balmer ... wouldn't you know it, neither were the 49ers. Or anybody else. He had one more tackle than he had kick returns in 2008, and had more kick return yards in 2009 than he did tackles, as well. If you missed it, he now plays for the Washington Redskins (they're presently unaware).
2004 brought wide receiver Rashaun Woods out of Oklahoma State with the No. 31 overall pick. Woods had 160 yards in his first season, missed the second season with torn ligaments in his thumb, was traded for Sammy Davis (huh?) and was then cut from the Chargers. And then cut by the Broncos. And then cut by the Hamburg Sea Devils. And then cut by the Toronto Argonauts. And then cut by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I didn't make any of that up.
2003 saw offensive tackle Kwame Harris enter the fray, out of good ol' Stanford University, with the 26th pick. I guess I could tell you that his Wikipedia page doesn't even have the five years he was with the 49ers, and instead just lists that he was signed by the Oakland Raiders in 2008. He was a hologram, except it only worked on defensive players. He still managed to get in the way of everybody on his own team, get false starts like you wouldn't believe, and generally be the worst offensive tackle I've ever seen. So the Raiders gave him $16 million and now he's trying to become a chef.
2002 saw cornerback Mike Rumph taken with the No. 27 pick, out of Miami. He was quickly converted to safety, where he would be able to utilize his strong tackling skills, if you believe Wikipedia. It's true - that's why he was moved. Unfortunately, his strong tackling skills didn't coincide with any other skill, and by the time you were able to say "What a tackle by Mike Rumph!" the opposing team was on the five yard-line and Rumph had re-torn something or other.
1999 saw Reggie McGrew join the 49ers with the No. 24 pick in the draft - a defensive tackle out of Florida. He played three seasons, appeared in 24 games and made ... nine tackles. And had a sack.
Really, there's some other precedent if you're going back further than that - Jim Druckenmiller and R.W. McQuarters are the next two for consideration, coming with the No. 26 and No. 28 picks, respectively. They were both pretty bad, though it's hard to beat just how terrible Druckenmiller was. Ahmed Plummer and Manny Lawson also come to mind at No. 24 and No. 22, but weren't quite on the level of suck as the other players.
There are some good names through in there, though - namely, Joe Staley at No. 28 in 2007. Outside of Staley, the 49ers haven't had a good player in the bottom 12 picks in ... a very, very long time. Again, this doesn't mean that everything is bad and we should brace for Kwame Harris (nobody should ever have to do that ever again), but it's just an interesting note.