The San Francisco 49ers hit an absolute home run when they drafted left tackle Joe Staley 11 years ago. The team selected linebacker Patrick Willis with the No. 11 overall pick, and then decided to make a move to get an other first round pick. They traded their fourth round pick that year and their first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft to the New England Patriots to acquire pick No. 28 in the first round. They then used that pick on Staley.
It was almost not to be for the 49ers, however. Staley recently sat down to talk about his draft day experience, and it’s an interesting one. You can watch the video above, or click here.
Staley was at home in Michigan, and he initially got a call from the Kansas City Chiefs at pick No. 23. According to Staley, the Chiefs put him on hold for five minutes. When the person came back on the line, Staley heard him ask someone else, “We’re gonna go with the other guy?” Then he told Staley, “Alright, hey Joe, best of luck.”
The wait continued until Staley’s agent told him the Baltimore Ravens were going to select him at No. 29. The 49ers called at that point and Staley politely told them he was going with the next pick, so he would not be around when they came back up. Whomever was on the line told him to watch the TV because they had just traded up to pick him at No. 28.
The Chiefs ended up using their first round pick on wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. He got off to a great start with the Chiefs, catching 70 passes for 995 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie. He had 86 receptions for 1,022 yards and seven touchdowns his second season. He missed five games his third season, including four while suspended for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. He followed that with 1,000-yard seasons in 2010 and 2011, but his remaining three years in Kansas City were rocky, and after his release in 2015, he spent one year with the Cleveland Browns before his final release.
A year after the 2007 NFL Draft, the Chiefs would spend a first round pick on tackle Branden Albert. Tackle was a need, but one has to wonder what might have happened had the Chiefs spent their first on Staley in 2007. Bowe had some productive years, but Staley was easily the superior draft choice.
I’d be curious as well what the 49ers would have done had Staley come off the board before they could move up. The 49ers ended up trading their second round pick (No. 42 overall) to the Indianapolis Colts for a fourth round pick and a 2008 first round pick. The Colts used the pick on offensive tackle Tony Ugoh. He hung around through 2011, and retired during 2012 training camp. Some decent options from that year’s draft after Staley was selected included Jermon Bushrod and Doug Free. Neither was spectacular, but both were better than Tony Ugoh.