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49ers 2012 draft class does not rank as the worst of all time

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It was awful, but not quite the absolute worst.

The San Francisco 49ers had an atrocious draft in 2012, and yet, by one measurement, it is not the worst of all time. And in fact, it even ties with another 49ers draft!

Over at ESPN, Brian Burke and Tony Moss put together a ranking of the worst draft classes of all time based on career approximate value. It is not a perfect metric, but it is at least a step in the right direction for trying to compare across eras.

Using career AV, the 49ers 2012 draft class tied for sixth. They finished with five AV, which tied them with the 1977 49ers draft class. Four NFL draft classes finished with zero AV, and one finished with four.

The 49ers 2012 draft class included:

WR A.J. Jenkins
RB LaMichael James
OG Joe Looney
LB Darius Fleming
DB Trenton Robinson
OL Jason Slowey
DE Cam Johnson

Here’s what ESPN had to say about that class:

San Francisco's recent woes can be traced back to its disastrous 2012 draft. First-round pick A.J. Jenkins appeared in only three games for the 49ers, dropping one pass and catching none before being traded away the following offseason. Running back LaMichael James was taken in the second round, but never developed into anything beyond a part-time returner and occasional backup to Frank Gore before being released one game into the 2014 season. Guard Joe Looney (fourth round) was the only other pick that year to catch on with the 49ers, starting four games in 2014 before moving on as a free agent.

The 49ers 1977 draft class included:

WR Elmo Boyd
DB Stan Black
DB Mike Burns
OT Jim Harlan
RB Jim Van Wagner
K David Posey
TE Brian Billick (yes, that Brian Billick)
OG Scott Martin

Here’s what ESPN had to say about that class:

In 1977, the 49ers were on the precipice of a dynasty but first had to flush that year's draft class out of their system. Without a first- or second-round pick thanks to the 1976 acquisition of Jim Plunkett from the Patriots, their top selection was third-round wide receiver Elmo Boyd, who started seven games for San Francisco before washing out in Green Bay. It's always darkest before the dawn.

Older fans will have to chime in on the 1977 draft class. As to the 2012 class, the 49ers undrafted free agent signings that year have proven more valuable. Most notably, the 49ers signed defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie and tight end Garrett Celek. They have combined for 11 AV in their five years since signing with the 49ers.

Let’s hope we don’t see a repeat of the 2012 class anytime soon!