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49ers draft rewind: 2012

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Did the 2012 draft actually happen?

Every year around draft time we like to look at the ghosts of drafts past with the San Francisco 49ers and reflect on the players allocated from the draft. We luckily have video of each draft thanks to YouTube poster and 49ers fan Marvin49. We’ll be looking at every year up to 2018. Today it’s 2012.

There are many conspiracies in life. Did UFOs land? Are the Illuminati controlling the world? And did the 49ers have a draft in 2012? It’s been nearly seven years and the 49ers have had plenty of time to move on, but who can forget 2012?

Sorry everyone, it’s that time of year again and given how everything goes, this is the last year we will go over this year.

It’s fitting that we’ll start draft rewinds here. 2010? Everyone’s gone. 2011? Daniel Kilgore got traded in 2018 offseason. 2012? With the exception of Joe Looney, every single player is out of the NFL. No, not in transition. Out. Like not even on a practice squad somewhere.

That makes everyone question if such a draft actually happened. Well, it did.

It all went downhill with the first pick. Enter, A.J. Jenkins. The 49ers needed a wide receiver after the fiasco that was the 2012 NFC Championship game, but you’d be hard pressed to not find a 49ers fan who said, “WHO?!” when the name was announced. Jenkins was fast, and that was pretty much it. He needed a weight room, had inconsistent production (which was blamed on his quarterback at Illinois), and well, lack of name recognition. Who the hell is A.J. Jenkins?

Well, he’s a guy the 49ers shipped off after only one season to the Kansas City Chiefs. If you trade your first round pick after one season that says something. And it’s not good. Even Reuben Foster with his legal issues at the very least showed promise his first year, Jenkins couldn’t even see the field.

Things didn’t get much better for the board. Round 2 had the more familiar LaMichael James, but that familiarity meant you were scratching your head when he was taken in the second round. Seen as change-of-pace back, James survived two seasons with the 49ers as opposed to Jenkins’ one. Part of the blame can go to then-49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman who seemed to just refuse to use a speedster like James in the passing game (on the few times James caught a check-down it usually led to decent results). The other part can go to James’ attitude. In all fairness, the 49ers just wouldn’t use James to his strengths (lining up in the slot) in a Darren Sproles-type of role. Why this stubbornness was going on is anyone’s guess, but James may have not gotten a fair shake until it was too late.

Not having a third round pick, the 49ers grabbed Joe Looney in the fourth round. By far, Looney is the best player the 49ers could get from this draft, and even then he didn’t make it past 2015. Darius Fleming came next, tearing his ACL in rookie training camp and doing it again to the same knee the following year, getting waived by the team.

The rest? Trenton Robinson, one of two sixth round picks actually saw the field rather early (his rookie season) but it was for three games. After a three-year stint with Washington, he’s out of the league. Jason Slowey, the other sixth round pick, managed to make the practice team, but he’s out of the league. Cam Johnson, their last pick didn’t even make it through 2012 before getting traded and guess what? He’s out of the league.

The 49ers would go on to play in Super Bowl 47 that year, but aside from a couple key LaMichael James plays (he scored a nice touchdown in the NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons) there was no contributions from this draft class. And there would be none in the future.

Folks, this is a draft that costs front office executives their jobs. Many want to point to 2017’s draft and say it was a big whiff and I say, “Yeah, but it wasn’t 2012.” Oh, and of course “Yeah, but they got Kittle.” At least 2017 had players producing in year one. At least 2017 got the 49ers at least one elite talent. At least 2017 had all the players retained through one season.

As per usual, the DMCA biscuits have this thing on lockdown in some regions, so if you’d like to view the video, make sure to click the link to go to YouTube directly to see it. Or you can go here via this link to see the analysis of the draft.

Picks:

1 (30) - A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois
2 (61) - LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
4 (117) - Joe Looney, OG, Wake Forest
5 (165) - Darius Fleming, OLB, Notre Dame
6 (180) - Trenton Robinson, FS, Michigan State
6 (199) - Jason Slowey, OL, Western Oregon
7 (237) - Cam Johnson, DE/OLB, Virginia