The San Francisco 49ers promoted Trent Baalke into the general manager role back in 2010, after the team abruptly "parted ways" with Scot McCloughan. The move happened a month before the NFL Draft, and there have always been questions about what implications that had on draft day.
I bring this up today because Danny Kelly had an interesting discussion at SB Nation about the 2010 NFL Draft and its implications across the league. He pointed to that draft as one with significant implications up to today. For the San Francisco 49ers, that draft had some big implications, and continues to impact the franchise.
The team's draft class included Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Taylor Mays, NaVorro Bowman, Anthony Dixon, Nate Byham, Kyle Williams and Phillip Adams. The team traded up to get Davis, and then traded down in a deal that eventually netted them NaVorro Bowman and Anthony Dixon in 2010, and then Kendall Hunter in 2011.
Taylor Mays was a huge whiff, while Davis, Iupati and Bowman were huge contributors. Anthony Dixon was a key special teams contributor, and Kyle Williams was generally solid on special teams, albeit not in one of the biggest situations imaginable. But he was a contributor, and as a 6th round pick, that's really all you can ask.
The Mays pick is always a tough one to figure out. Given Mike Singletary's strong personality, and the turnover from McCloughan to Baalke, it's hard to know exactly who was responsible for what on draft day. How much of the board did McCloughan influence, how much control did Baalke have on draft day, and what was Singletary's involvement. However you want to look at the power brokers, the 49ers came away with a strong draft class. Iupati has departed, but the team still has Davis and Bowman making significant contributions.
At this point, heading into 2015, you could argue the 2011 NFL Draft ended up a bigger deal for the 49ers. They added Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Chris Culliver, Daniel Kilgore and Bruce Miller. All have made big contributions, and four of the five should make big contributions in 2015. However, that 2010 class could be viewed as setting the framework for the early years of the Jim Harbaugh era. The run game was key in 2011 and 2012, and establishing a stable offensive line was key. There were other important parts, but bringing in Iupati and Davis were key moves. Back in the summer of 2010, Danny Tuccitto broke down the idea of taking two offensive linemen in the first round, and is rather prescient in hindsight. I highly recommend giving that a read again.
One side note involves the Davis trade. The 49ers moved up to the Broncos slot. The Broncos ended up dealing down again with the Eagles, who later dealt that first round pick to the Cowboys. That pick became Dez Bryant. The Broncos also did a deal with the Patriots to move up two spots. That netted the Broncos Demaryius Thomas, and the fourth round pick the Broncos gave up became Aaron Hernandez. Also, that Broncos-Eagles trade included a third round pick that became Eric Decker. Nobody knew how those guys would shake out moving forward, but looking back, that's a staggering amount of talent.